Dr. Seuss spans the ages in Lewistown

By: 
JENNY GESSAMAN
Reporter

Student Justin Maier reads Dr. Seuss’ “Wacky Wednesday” to resident Floyd Jenni before lunch Thursday.

Photo by Jenny Gessaman

In case you didn’t know, Thursday was national Dr. Seuss Day. Those who did know took the chance to celebrate: Students from Lewis and Clark Elementary used their lunch hour to read several of the author’s books to residents at The Villa Assisted Living.

The Villa Executive Director Tawnya Dengel reported themed days were a tradition at the facility.

“We have looked at different theme days, and we try to accommodate theme days,” she said.

Dengel has seen residents have fun celebrating ice cream and wearing red, but she credits Activity Director Karen Seyfert with adding a little extra to Thursday’s party.

“Karen reached out to the schools to see if any students could come and read,” she said.

Dengel said her staff was excited to bring generations together.

“We felt it would be a great opportunity for intergenerational blending,” she said. “These days, I feel like there’s a lot of children that are scared of seniors, or intimidated by them.”

But Dengel thought the day helped The Villa’s residents, too.

“For a lot of them, one of their past hobbies had been reading,” she said. “Unfortunately, as they have gotten older, their eyesight has been failing, so they haven’t been able to read.”

Lewis and Clark Elementary Principal Danny Wirtzberger was more than happy to take The Villa up on its offer.

“We wanted to provide a service for them as they provided one for us,” he said.

Wirtzberger explained the day acted as a grand finale to the school’s celebration of “I Love to Read” month. He brought up the idea to the Service Council, Lewis and Clark’s version of a student council.

“They were really excited,” he said with a laugh. “Anytime they get to go on a ‘field trip,’ they’re pretty happy.”

Surrounded by the smell of homemade pizza and smiling seniors, 16 fifth and sixth graders read 16 different Dr. Seuss books Thursday. Rhymes, whether read slow or fast, triggered smiles across The Villa’s crowded lunchroom.

“I think it’s wonderful,” said resident Nancy Miller.

She enjoyed the presentations and the presenters.

“I love them because I have kids,” she said, adding, “Mine are much bigger now, of course.”

Miller remembered when her children found the words of the whimsical poet.

“I had two boys and they had a lot of fun with Dr. Seuss,” she said.

Fifth-grader Justin Maier took his fun on Thursday from his company.

“I like meeting new people, and I like reading,” he said. “Today helped me interact with people I wouldn’t usually meet.”

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