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West Jordan Journal

Heartland celebrates the wisdom of Dr. Seuss

Mar 29, 2017 09:46AM ● By Jet Burnham

City Council member, Dirk Burton, gets wacky while reading Dr. Seuss. (Jet Burnham/City Journals)

By Jet Burnham | [email protected]


Would you read a book with a nurse?

Would you read one in a hearse?

Would you, could you with the mayor?

Or with a Grinch all green with hair?


Heartland Elementary students read with a variety of community members in honor of Dr Seuss’s birthday. It was part of the school’s reading contest held to highlight the importance of reading.

The volunteers, including the mayor, a city council member, the district superintendent, police officers, a farmer, a radio announcer, a counselor from a funeral home and a nurse entertained students with Dr. Seuss stories when they visited the school March 2.

Dirk Burton, a West Jordan city councilman, jumped on chairs and moved around the room while he read “Mr. Brown Can Moo, Can You?” His animated voice and uninhibited actions got the first-, second- and third-grade autistic students making train noises and booms of thunder along with him.

Many of the volunteers who came to read are fans of Dr. Seuss.

Sports announcer Steve Klauke has read in elementary schools on Seuss’s birthday for the past 10 years.

“Fox in Socks is my favorite because it’s considered to be the most difficult tongue twister that Dr. Seuss ever wrote,” said Klauke. The phrases are challenging for many readers, but for Klauke, sports radio announcer for the Salt Lake Bees and Weber State University, it comes naturally.

“When play happens fast, you have to be able to relay what’s going on without twisting your tongue,” he said. After he read to the class, Klauke invited some of the fourth-graders to try a few of the tongue twisters themselves.

Famer Gil Ma, who owns the farm at Gardner Village, told students he hoped they would gain a love for reading.

“In fifth grade, I’d never read a Dr. Seuss book,” said Ma to a class of fifth-graders.

Ma shared how he hated reading as a child because it was hard.

“Dr. Seuss has changed my life because he made it fun for me to read,” he said.

Ma struggles with dyslexia, which wasn’t diagnosed until he was in college. He said he reads better upside down so it was no problem for him to read the page from above while showing the pictures of “The Foot Book” to the class.

Sharon Hartwell, a nurse and grandmother to four students at Heartland read books in her granddaughters’ classrooms. Her son, Mike Stevens, a family counselor at a funeral home, also volunteered to read books in his children’s classrooms. He also provided the Grinch costume that Abram Yospe, administrative intern, wore to sneak around the school and creep up on students to hand them Dr. Seuss bookmarks.

Melissa Stevens, preschool teacher at Heartland, is a big Dr. Seuss fan (she named her daughter Maisy after the character in “Daisy-Head Mayzie”). She served on the PTA committee that planned the school’s annual reading contest, culminating in the celebration of Dr. Seuss’s birthday.

“We wanted to celebrate the love of reading and show how important reading is to everyone in our lives,” Stevens said. “We had the people who serve in our community come to show that everyone you see has reading in their life and a love for it.”

The school’s reading contest kicked off with Cat in the Hat Day on Feb.1 when students got to wear wacky hats. For two weeks students kept track of the time they spent reading. The goal was to read 150,000 minutes. The school surpassed that amount with more than 300,000 minutes. 

Prizes were awarded to the top three readers in each class, the top reader in each grade and the top class in each grade.