Gess Principal Jerry Pugh said a Canadian hockey team and the Gators have at least one thing in common and that is reading.
Gess invited the Selkirk College hockey team from Castlegar, B.C. to read to the students during Read Across America Day on Friday, March 2 in honor of Dr. Seuss’ birthday.
This is the fourth year Gess has celebrated Read Across America, a day when they invite a variety of people from the community to read to each classroom. However, this is the first time they have invited a sports team, or therefore, anyone from outside the country.
The 16 hockey players paired up to read to each classroom for a half hour each, and then they got to play floor hockey, or “shinny,” with a third and fifth grade class during afternoon P.E. They each read a book about hockey, talked about how reading is important in college, and answer any other questions the kids had.
“The team loved it,” said Selkirk Athletic Director Kim Verigin. “They connected to the kids easily”
Verigin said they have been looking more into doing more community-focused activities and this is something that fit right in with that goal.
Selkirk College is about a one and a half hour drive north of Chewelah. The team made the special visit to “read across America” part of their last road trip of the season as they were headed to Spokane to play Eastern Washington University on March 3.
Head Coach Jamie Friess has two nephews who attend Gess Elementary and had always told them that his hockey team would visit their school one day but they had not had the chance until now.
Although the hockey players had never heard about Read Across America before, Friess said they had been looking forward to the visit since they found out about it the week before.
“We were glad to come do it,” he said. “We hope the kids enjoyed having us.”
All the Gess students enjoyed playing hockey as well because it is not something they get to do normally. Staff even had to borrow hockey sticks from Loon Lake School to be able to set up the activity with the team, who also used the kid-sized equipment.
Verigin said it was interesting to find out how little the kids actually knew about hockey.
Title 1 teacher Cindy Boldrick organized Read Across America day and said all the kids “love” having different people visit their classroom. The community members talk about why reading is important, how they use it in their job, and read stories related to their work.
“It makes it real to (the students),” Boldrick said.
The community members that read to the Gess students earlier in the day were: Margaret Retherford, Cyndi Kiefer, and Angela Proszek of Providence St. Joseph’s Hospital, Dr. Kim Johnstone, local author Kat Brooks, Rone Katzer of Redline Finishing, Debbie Akers of Akers Drug, Susan Bristol from Windermere Real Estate, Owen Fullmer of Fullmer’s Garage, Kezia Rose of Flowery Trail Coffeehouse, Bob Wellman of American West Bank, Andi Trudeau of The Nordlig Motel, Counselor Deanna Norvell, Kelly Schwartz of Chewelah Veterinarian Clinic, and City Secretary Tracy Ferrell.
By Kellie Trudeau, The Independent Staff
In The Photo: Owen Fullmer of Fullmer’s Garage in Chewelah reads to Dianne Kennedy’s second grade.