Bear, Del. - March 2, 2004 Lieutenant Governor John Carney, Jr. and Secretary of Education Valerie A. Woodruff today joined third grade students at Olive B. Loss Elementary School in Bear to help celebrate the 100th birthday of world renowned author Theodor Seuss Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss. Joining Lieutenant Governor Carney and Secretary Woodruff was a furry, feisty, funny eight-foot feline known as "The Cat" along with assistants "Thing 1" and "Thing 2."
Also on hand to celebrate this "Seussentennial" event were State Board President Dr. Joseph Pika; DSEA President Barbara Grogg; Appoquinimink Superintendent Dr. Tony Marchio; and Olive B. Loss, Delaware's first female school superintendent, for whom the school was named. Representatives from the U.S. Postal Service in Washington D.C. were also in attendance to provide a "sneak preview" of the national 37 cent postage stamp commemorating the 100th birthday of Dr. Seuss.
"Today is a special day to honor a very special person," said Lieutenant Governor Carney. "Dr. Seuss has brought so much happiness into this world with his wonderful illustrations and delightful words of rhyming wit. His books have put smiles on the faces of billions of children all over the world. Happy 100th birthday, Dr. Seuss!"
Although the incredibly talented illustrator and author passed away in September 1991, his works will last for generations to come. Born in Springfield, Massachusetts on March 2, 1904, Geisel would later attend Dartmouth College in Concord, New Hampshire. While at Dartmouth, he drew cartoons and wrote for the college's humor magazine Jack-O-Lantern. Geisel invented the pseudonym "Seuss" after he was removed from editorship of the magazine for holding an unauthorized party. Although he still contributed to the magazine, he began signing his middle name, Seuss.
In 1936, while aboard an ocean liner heading for Europe, Seuss was lulled to the rhythm of the ship's engines, and began to put that rhyme into his first book, And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street. The colorful book, rejected by 27 publishers before being published, is about a young boy with a vivid imagination.
"…That can't be my story. That's only a start.
I'll say that a zebra was pulling that cart!
And that is a story that no one can beat,
When I say that I saw it on Mulberry Street."
In 1954, Life Magazine published a report concerning illiteracy among school children. The report said that children were having trouble reading because their books were boring. This inspired Seuss to create another masterpiece called The Cat in the Hat. In 1960, publicist Bennett Cerf bet Seuss $50 he couldn't write an entire book using only fifty words. The result was Green Eggs and Ham. By the way, Cerf never paid the $50.
"At the time of his death in 1991, Dr. Suess had written and illustrated 44 children's books," said Secretary of Education Woodruff. "His books have been translated into more than 15 languages and nearly ¼ billion copies have found their way into homes and hearts around the world. His works and his contributions to children's literacy are admirable." Added Woodruff, "Today marks the beginning of a year-long or 'Seussentennial' celebration of the works of an incredibly talented and gifted man whose legacy is putting a smile on children's faces. Happy birthday, Dr. Seuss!"
"…I'll pick one with plenty of power and size, a blue one with plenty of fun in his eyes.
And then, just to give him a little more tone, have a Rajah, with rubies, perched high on a throne.
Say! That makes a story that no one can beat,
When I say that I saw it on Mulberry Street."
Linda Hounchell, marketing specialist for the U.S. Postal Service in Washington D.C., brought an oversized framed poster of the Dr. Seuss 37 cent postage stamp that will be officially dedicated later today in San Diego, California, where Dr. Seuss maintained his residence. "The students at Olive B. Loss are unique in that they are being treated to a 'sneak preview' of the Seuss stamp before it is dedicated." Added Hounchell, "The stamp is only available today in San Diego, but will be on sale nationwide, beginning tomorrow morning."
Students and staff at Olive Loss were also surprised when it was announced that they were winners of this year's "Delaware Reads about…" program. In costume and carrying balloons and posters, members of the "DOE Prize Patrol" burst into the school's cafetorium, shouting, "You've won, you've won!" to the 150 third graders and staff members in attendance. In its second year, the program is a statewide partnership for literacy between the Delaware Division of Libraries (DDL) and DOE. The program rewards elementary, middle and high schools in each county with an author visit for those schools who utilize best practices in literacy while demonstrating individual, classroom, and school-wide support for reading.
"…I swung 'round the corner and dashed through the gate,
I ran up the stairs and I felt simply GREAT!
For I had a story that NO ONE could beat!
And to think that I saw it on Mulberry Street…"
Happy birthday, Dr. Seuss. Thank you!
Delaware Department of Education
401 Federal Street, Suite #2
Dover, Delaware 19901
Phone: (302) 735-4035
Fax: (302) 739-4654
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