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Fort Hood Press Center
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
DATE: March 18, 2014 11:44:45 AM CDT

402nd FA and 5th AR BDEs team up for National Read Across America event

Staff Sgt. Leslie Moore, a noncommissioned officer with the 402nd Field Artillery Brigade, reads to the students of Presa Elementary School during the annual Read Across America event on March 5, in El Paso, Texas. While the event is usually on March 3, in celebration of Dr. Seuss’s birthday, Presa Elementary School celebrates the event all week to encourage students to incorporate reading into their lives. Soldiers were given the opportunity to read to multiple classes throughout the day and spend time with the students in the library for a final reading session. (Photo by 1st Lt. Vanessa Dudley, 1st Battalion, 361st Regiment, 5th Armored Brigade, Division West Public Affairs)

By 1st Lt. Vanessa Dudley, 1st Battalion, 361st Regiment, 5th Armored Brigade, Division West Public Affairs

El Paso, Texas - “Do you like green eggs and ham? I do not like them, Sam-I-am,” said Staff Sgt. Alsherdan Lopez, a noncommissioned officer with the 402nd Field Artillery Brigade, to the 1st grade students of Presa Elementary School.

Lopez, along with three other Soldiers from the same unit as well as the 5th Armored Brigade, joined together March 6 here for the school’s week long celebration of Dr. Seuss’s birthday for the annual Read Across America event.

The event, which usually falls on the school day closest to March 2, encourages adults to pick up a book and read to a child, showing children the importance of reading in their lives.

Staff Sgt. Alsherdan Lopez, a noncommissioned officer with the 402nd Field Artillery Brigade, reads the book “Green Eggs and Ham” by Dr. Seuss to the students of Presa Elementary School, March 6 in El Paso, Texas. The school celebrated the Read Across America event all week and encouraged creativity with themed days. On March 5, the theme was wacky hair Wednesday, where students came to school with colored and styled hair like the characters in their favorite Dr. Seuss books. (Photo by 1st Lt. Vanessa Dudley, 1st Battalion, 361st Regiment, 5th Armored Brigade, Division West Public Affairs)

While this is usually a one day occasion, Presa Elementary takes it a step further, and has reading sessions and activities for a full week of classes. Each day of the week is themed, which this year included a crazy hair day, clothes inside out day, and a character day, where kids can come to school dressed as a Dr. Seuss character.

The school invites local authors, FBI agents, Soldiers from Fort Bliss, and dressed-up characters from Dr. Seuss’s books to come in and take part in the festivities.

“I thought, what an awesome and positive influence that the speakers have on the kids,” said Gabriella Barnes, Presa Elementary school project coordinator. “They see that reading isn’t just about teachers telling them that they have to read, but that people they admire read as well.”

The Soldiers were able to pick from a selection of books, to include all of Dr. Seuss’s common favorites, before heading to a classroom to read. As the Soldiers stepped into the classrooms with their books at their sides to read, the children whispered amongst themselves in barely-contained awe. After reading to the kids, the Soldiers were bombarded with questions about their everyday lives as Soldiers before heading to another class to repeat the experience.

Sgt. 1st Class Elevlyn Barajas, a noncommissioned officer with the 402nd Field Artillery Brigade, reads a book to the students of Presa Elementary School during the Read Across America event on March 6, in El Paso, Texas. Barajas was able to read to multiple classes throughout the day and answer any questions that the students had about her life as a Soldier. Soldiers from the 402nd Field Artillery and 5th Armored Brigade teamed together for the event and covered most of the schools classes. (Photo by 1st Lt. Vanessa Dudley, 1st Battalion, 361st Regiment, 5th Armored Brigade, Division West Public Affairs)

“Growing up, I wish someone like Soldiers or law enforcement had come to my school to read to us, said Lopez. “It was a good experience to be able to pass down some knowledge, as the kids had lots of questions for me.”

Other guests for the week included local author Phillip Cortez and Dr. Anna Perez, the interim superintendent for the Ysleta Independent School District.

“One of the things that I really enjoy is reading, and as a child, that is what opened up the world for me,” said Perez. “So I wanted that opportunity to share that with the children.”

While the Read Across America event is over for the year, the Soldiers of the 402nd Field Artillery and 5th Armored Brigade hope they have left a lasting impression on the students of Presa Elementary School, or at least until they can come back next year and gift them again with the imaginative and creative words of Dr. Seuss.  

For more information contact:
Headquarters First Army
(309) 782-9717
Rock Island, IL 61299
[email protected]