Pilot story and photos

by Andrea Barkan

An unprecedented number of children and adults turned up Wednesday night at Kalmiopsis Elementary School in Brookings to celebrate Read Across America day on Dr. Seuss's 101st birthday.

andquot;It seems to get bigger each year,andquot; organizer Bobbie Gross said. andquot;I couldn't believe all the people ... it's overwhelming.andquot;

The National Education Association began Read Across America events in 1998 to promote literacy across the country.

The popular event is in its eighth year at Kalmiopsis.

andquot;It's a celebration of reading,andquot; Gross said. andquot;We want to encourage the families to come and read together.andquot;

And they did just that.

Students, parents, friends and families filled fifth-grade classrooms for story time with guest readers.

Those guests included teachers, police officers, school administrators and community members.

Brookings Police Officer Marvin Parker and the crime-fighting dog McGruff read andquot;The Big Bragandquot; by Dr. Seuss.

Kalmiopsis playground aide Molly Nelson read andquot;A Pocket Full of Kissesandquot; while School District Superintendent Chris Nichols read andquot;Kippy the Koala.andquot;

As visitors roamed from reader to reader, the halls became a sea of striped Seuss-inspired hats.

Students in Joi Gleason's home economics classes at Azalea Middle School crafted and sold 195 felt Seuss hats.

andquot;The atmosphere is set with all these hats everyone is wearing,andquot; Gross said.

Part of the students' sales were finished before Seuss Night even began. They sold many hats last Saturday at Wal-Mart in Crescent City - so many, in fact, that they had to work furiously the next three days to restock their supply for Wednesday night.

Wal-Mart matches the money from their sales, Gleason said. That money supports the home economics program, including the Linus Quilt Project.

The week-long book fair that accompanied Dr. Seuss Night, held in the Kalmiopsis Library, also raised money for local schools.

Librarian Rose Hedenskog said 30 percent of book fair sales go to Kalmiopsis.

They usually sell between $4,500 and $4,800 worth of books, she said.

Hedenskog holds just one book fair each year, during the week of the Read Across America celebration.