TUMWATER - There were cowboy hats, fedoras and the type of bonnets worn by pioneers; princess crowns, baseball caps and Mickey Mouse ears.
But most of the hats worn by students and staff members at Peter G. Schmidt Elementary School’s parade Wednesday were simply over-the-top silly, filled with a lot of bounce, shimmer and creativity.
Last week, schools all over the country celebrated the National Education Association’s Read Across America. The annual early-literacy effort is observed the week of March 2, the birthday of author Theodor Geisel, more commonly known as Dr. Seuss.
Peter G. Schmidt’s celebration included cupcakes, readings from Seuss books and an all-school crazy-hat parade that snaked through every classroom, picking students up and dropping them off along the way.
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The parade was led by school counselor Marilyn Krause, who tapped a tambourine and wore a hat decorated with Beanie Babies, Slinkies, feathers, garland and other shiny thingamajigs.
“We work really hard all the time, and the kids need something that’s fun,” Krause said. “These are the days kids remember.”
Students giggled, pointed and high-fived one another as they took turns watching and marching in the parade.
Those who didn’t bring a hat from home made a paper one at school. Several students designed theirs similar to the famous red-and-white-striped extra-tall top hat worn by Seuss’ “Cat in the Hat” character.
“It’s fun to see their creativity; they’re having a great time,” said third-grade teacher Heidi Center.
Fourth-grader Parker Mercer, 10, wore a cowboy hat that was decorated with curled pipe cleaners, Styrofoam balls, googly eyes and stickers.
“It took me about two or three days to make it,” he said.
Because the school has a no-hat policy, wearing hats to school – let alone silly ones – was a big deal for students, said Principal Jack Arend. He wore a pharaoh hat in the parade.
Dr. Seuss books have played a huge role in early literacy and help build a lifelong love for reading, Arend said.
“It’s just such fun reading,” he said. “It doesn’t matter what your age is, we all like to read ‘Cat in the Hat.’”
Throughout the day, students read Seuss books, worked on activity sheets and found other ways to learn and celebrate the famous children’s author.
In Judy Fondaw’s fourth-grade class, students discussed Seuss’ life and analyzed some of his famous quotes.
“A lot of his quotes are about living life to the fullest,” Fondaw said. “Appreciating every day you have was Dr. Seuss’ mantra.”
Lisa Pemberton: 360-754-5443 firstname.lastname@example.org