News From Terre Haute, Indiana

March 3, 2012

Seuss was loose, so was Tanoos

Read Across America Day rules school

Lisa Trigg
The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — And to think that they saw it at Ouabache School,

Danny Tanoos as the Cat was too cool,

Thing 1 and Thing 2 had a high-fiving duel,

And reading for fun was the absolute rule.

A parade, laughter, snacks and a few special guests too were part of the Read Across America Day quest. At Ouabache Elementary on Friday, the students celebrated the birthday of beloved author Dr. Seuss.Superintendent Tanoos kicked off the parade, in a Cat in the Hat suit that appeared custom-made. He drove the school carpet cleaner through halls, while blue hair-wearing children excitedly lined the walls. Two students dressed up as Thing 1 and Thing 2 threw confetti, while the South Vigo drum line drum-drum-drummed without breaking a sweat-y.

Student athletes from North Vigo, South Vigo and Indiana State University passed out bookmarks and pencils, and the cookies in the library were as decorative as holiday tinsels.

Principal Tammy Rowshandel and media specialist Jacki Secrest continued a tradition started last year to coincide with the National Education Association’s Read Across America Day, an annual reading motivation and awareness program that calls for every child in every community to celebrate reading on March 2.

Each student received a free book donated by WTIU PBS Station Education Services, which also donated the Thing 1 and Thing 2 costumes for the day’s event. WTIU works with the Vigo County Public Library to bring literary services to Vigo County schools.

After the parade, the special guests spread out among the classrooms to read, and to encourage the children to read for pleasure. Tanoos, still attired as the Cat, was special guest reader for a group in the media center.

When principal Rowshandel asked the students if they knew who Tanoos is, one youngster piped up, “Your boss!”

Another student asked ruefully, “Do we really have take the ISTEP?” Referring to the standardized tests coming up later this month.

“Yes. It’s a state law,” the superintendent responded with sympathy. He explained that students in all states have to take some type of standard test.

Tanoos read “The Sneetches,” a tale about equality for all individuals and groups. And he jokingly told the students that he inherited his Cat suit, because his great-grandfather was named Seuss Tanoos.

“It’s a good day to get out with the students,” Tanoos said later. “I loved being a classroom teacher, and I still try to get to a school every day.”

The messages in the Dr. Seuss stories have a timeless meaning for children, he said.

Dr. Seuss, born Theodor Suess Geisel, began writing children’s books in the late 1930s, starting with “And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street.”

According to the NEA website, “The Cat in the Hat” was born from a 1954 report in Life magazine about illiteracy among school children. Geisel’s publisher sent the author a list of 400 words he felt were important for children to learn, and the publisher asked Geisel to cut the list to 250 words and use them to write an entertaining children’s book. Nine months later, using 220 of the words given to him, Dr. Seuss published “The Cat in the Hat.”

More than six decades later, the stories of Dr. Seuss are still used to inspire generations of children, and educators, to explore the joys of reading. Some of the youth at Ouabache said their favorite Seuss book was the classic “Green Eggs and Ham.”

Would you, could you, read in a caboose?

Only if the Cat is Superintendent Danny Tanoos!

Lisa Trigg can be reached at (812) 231-4254 or