Oh the Places You’ll Go (Back To)

Read Across America day brought seniors back to their elementary alma maters.

NASH+senior+Eric+Mole+reads+a+Dr.+Suess+book+to+students+at+his+elementary+alma+mater%2C+Bradford+Woods+Elementary%2C+this+past+Monday+for+Read+Across+America+Day.

photo by Jonathan Ross

NASH senior Eric Mole reads a Dr. Suess book to students at his elementary alma mater, Bradford Woods Elementary, this past Monday for Read Across America Day.

By Jonathan Ross, North Allegheny Senior High School

A person is a person, no matter how small. And boy, did the kids look small, as Margaret Fenton walked through the doors of Bradford Woods Elementary School.

“I felt so old sitting in front of the little kids, but I felt so cool,” she said.

Fenton was at BWE for Read Across America Day. Every year, high school seniors who previously attended Bradford Woods return to their elementary alma mater to read to the younger children. 

The Seussical mini-holiday happened last week, on March 2nd, Dr. Seuss’s birthday. Theodore Giesel, the man behind the famous “Seuss” pen name, is known internationally for his contributions to children’s literature. He has sold more than six-hundred million books, which have been translated into more than twenty languages. They’ve been adapted to film and shared across the world.

Most importantly, though, Dr. Suess’s books teach important lessons to children, young and old.

Honoring his contributions, then, makes sense on a day that is devoted to reading. That’s why the former BWE students were asked to bring in their favorite Dr. Seuss book to read. When the seniors arrived, each of them was greeted with a selection of pictures from their elementary school days. The school librarian, Mimi Flaherty, had hand-selected art projects, reports, and photos for their return. 

I remember Dr. Seuss day when I was sitting in this room. I’m so glad I get to share that with the younger kids.”

— Eric Mole, senior

The seniors were then shown to their respective classrooms, some greeting old teachers and others greeting younger siblings and friends. One senior, Eric Mole, was sent to the room of Mrs. Tarchick, his 3rd-grade teacher. Mole’s chosen book, Wacky Wednesday, was a favorite, as the third graders clamored to point out what was wrong in each colorful picture.

“I have so many, so many memories in this room,” Mole said. “They’ll stay with me forever. I remember Dr. Seuss day when I was sitting in this room. I’m so glad I get to share that with the younger kids.”

Mole was far from the only one entertained, however. Brothers Alek and Alistair Vatulla, both current students at Bradford Woods Elementary, had only praise for Read Across America Day. Alistair was proof of the success of the day, happily gushing, “I loved the day. I got to read Dr. Seuss. That’s a good day.”

Older brother Alek, on the other hand, exhibited a slightly more nuanced appreciation for the day, stating, “I enjoyed meeting the kids who went to Bradford Woods before me. It’s like I’m getting to know the future me.” 

After the returning seniors were done reading the Seuss books in the classrooms, they were invited into the teacher lounge for a small reunion, complete with refreshments. As the grade school kids were lining up for bus-calls, the lounge was abuzz with sounds of “remember this” and “remember that.”

“It’s so fun, (teachers) love it,” Flaherty said. “We get to see what happens to our students. It’s the fourteenth year of Read Across America at BWE, and every time it’s awesome to see what everyone is doing because we can never really tell where our students are headed as grade-schoolers.”

When the festivities were done, Read Across America Day was, once again, a success. As Dr. Seuss famously wrote, “the more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” Three days ago, on March 2nd, at Bradford Woods Elementary School, books were read, things were learned, and places were traveled.

As for Fenton, while she loved performing the reading, she also was happy to finally be the “big bad senior” she remembered from years ago.

This story was originally published on The Uproar on March 5, 2020.