The Ventnor Educational Community Complex celebrated the National Education Association’s Read Across America Day March 2 with a day of activities that included guest readers, assemblies and a visit from some furry and not-so-furry friends. Read Across America Day celebrates reading on the birthday of children’s book author and illustrator Theodor Seuss Geisel, who wrote under the pen name Dr. Seuss.

The theme for the program centered on Geisel’s recently discovered book, “What Pet Should I Get?” Three assemblies, held for different grade levels, featured guest speaker Amy Penney of the Center for Aquatic Sciences at Adventure Aquarium in Camden, who gave a presentation on which animals make good pets and which make poor pets.

She stressed that nondomesticated animals need to remain in the wild to be able to reproduce and that taking them out of their natural habitat could cause them to become endangered. For her presentation “Best Bets for Pets,” Penney brought in live animals that make great pets such as Jiffy the corn snake; “proceed with caution” pets that require more care, such as Irwin the bearded dragon lizard; and “not too good to have as pets” such as Gomez the Eastern screech owl and Fluffy the American alligator.

“It’s not legal to have an alligator as a pet,” Penney noted.

She also talked about a common pet that can be purchased on the boardwalk in the summer – the hermit crab. She said that when brought home, hermit crabs often only live a short time, maybe a few days or weeks, but in their natural habitat they can live as long as 40 years. Hermit crabs do not reproduce in captivity, she said, which could cause them to become endangered.

“That’s because they are meant to live in their natural environment and not in a cage at your house,” she said.

The assembly also included poems, speeches and skits performed by students and staff. Mayor Michael Bagnell opened the assembly reciting a Reader’s Oath and asking students to say “I promise” louder each time.

Students identified as the “Top Cat” readers and most improved readers were recognized at the assembly for the number of books they read during the school year. They received a new book and a $5 Wawa gift card from the Ventnor City Education Association. Third-grader Arden Hazlett and fourth-grader Fahim Bablu won awards for having the most accelerated reader points. 

During regular classroom hours, members of Hadassah and the Ventnor Police and Fire departments took turns reading books to the children. 

Students arrived at school in the spirit of the day wearing red, white and black clothing.

Top Cat Readers

First grade – Alaila Rivera, Donovan Palma, Cole Hewitt and Veronika Mitrofanova.

Second grade – Akira Gordon, Isabelle Marinelli, Scott Freeden and Jennifer Rivera.

Third grade – Cooper Jewel, Hebereli Mejia-Munguia, Arden Hazlett and Sorayawati Gordon.

Fourth grade – Fahim Bablu, Isabella Abreu and Elvis Leon Cruz.

Fifth grade – Olina Ferrier, Jake Hocker, Zainab Khawaja, Said Castro and Alesi Echevarria.

Sixth grade – Anderson Kriebel, Natalia Aguilar, Ashley Ramirez, Jaleena Mercado, and Richard Morris.

Seventh grade – Benjamin Iannelli, Winnie Wong, Julian Molina, Kaitlyn Lafferty and Taylor Milone.

Eighth grade – Sarah Conte, Citlaly Ortiz, Jamor Jacrois, Alexandra Sanchez and Jacqueline Rufino.

Most Improved Readers

First grade – Tatiana Jimenez, Zucely Orellana, Hayden Sarno and Krismary Hoffman.

Second grade – Debraj Chakraborty, Anthony Alvarez, Brian Perez and Viviana Arriago.

Third grade – Bernard Hargadon, Sebastian Romero, Carly Hennis and Anthony DeLorenzo.

Fourth grade – Emily Khuc, Betzy Hernandez, Angelina Merchese and Marileina Echevarria.

Fifth grade – Tiana Lengeranli, Carlos Sarkar, Jhon Rojas and Colin Abbott.

Sixth grade – Harry Quintanilla, Jasser Rivera, Alejandro Canas and Martel Chisolm.

Seventh grade – Andrew Fricke, Donald Fussner, Gabriel Rawle and Angel Cosme-Hernandez.

Eighth grade – Gabi Hendri, Madison Lebron, Briana Alvarez, Chelsea Sanchez and Jacqueline Rufino.

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