Birthday wishes
Newton County students celebrate Dr. Seuss' 104th birthday

COVINGTON - Students in Newton County - and all over the United States - celebrated one man's birthday Monday.

By reading books and having special guest readers, schools all over America wished Dr. Seuss a happy 104th birthday and celebrated the 11th annual Read Across America day.

"In this age of MySpace and Facebook, any effort to remind adults and young children of the importance of regularly picking up a book feels even more critical," the Georgia Association of Educators President Jeff Hubbard said in a press release. "There is no doubt that if given the opportunity, our young people would literally live online. While that's one reality we live in today, another reality is that a strong foundation in reading still provides the best chance for success in academics and life."

For about the 10th year, local substitute teacher Charles Wilborn brought the celebration to Heard-Mixon Elementary School.

"This is my favorite school," he said. "(The students) will not forget this. These are our future attorneys, doctors (and) nurses."

Local officials, such as Newton County Board of Commissioners Chairman Aaron Varner, Newton County Sheriff Joe Nichols, City of Covington Fire Chief Don Floyd, Newton County Fire Chief Mike Satterfield and other city and county officials and business people, read to students at the school. Wilborn and retired Newton County Educator Lee Aldridge donned Dr. Seuss' Cat in the Hat outfits.

Nichols read Dr. Seuss' "Sleep Book" to Robin Darby's third-grade class.

Nichols, who son attended Heard-Mixon as a child, said he has been voluntarily reading to students in the schools for at least 20 or 25 years.

"I enjoy doing it; I enjoy the kids," he said.

After reading the book to the third-grade class, he also discussed his job with the students and explained to them that uniformed officers aren't always "beating up bad guys," as they may see in the movies.

"We only have to hurt people if they try to hurt us or somebody else. If you see somebody wearing a badge, they are there to help you," he said. "If you get lost or anything, you tell them, so they can help you - that's what we do."

Heard-Mixon Principal Lee Peck said students love Dr. Seuss' birthday celebration.

"We always make a big deal out of it," he said.

The school had posters hung all over the school walls, and a cake, complete with candles, sat in the media center. Students also had featured activities in the media center throughout the day with Media Specialist Cheryl Anderson.

"Everybody get on your egg - get ready to hatch," Anderson said before she started reading Seuss' "Horton Hatches the Egg" to Maria Hargrove's kindergarten class as they sat on top of eggs and egg nests in the media center. "Dr. Seuss is a very special person."

Michelle Floyd can be reached at michelle.floyd@newtoncitizen.com.