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You’re never too old to learn or too young to teach

Nine-year-old CarrieaunBryant GreLakes sings during Friday's 'Oh Places You'll Go!' program Green Bay Elementary School North Chicago. | Brian O'Mahoney~for

Nine-year-old, Carrieauna Bryant, of Great Lakes sings during Friday's "Oh, the Places You'll Go!" program at Green Bay Elementary School in North Chicago. | Brian O'Mahoney~for Sun-Times Media

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Updated: May 24, 2013 1:43AM

Things seen, heard and said, and points pondered during the Community Readers Day event at Green Bay School (grades K-5) in North Chicago.

■ It only took about 90 seconds of reading to and talking with a group of kindergartners to realize something — or someone, to be more exact — was missing from the conversation.

The kids needed and wanted to hear the story. But it was the parents and grandparents of these kids who needed to be there to see how interested the children were in the story, and to participate in a dialogue about the importance of reading — and yes, arithmetic too, though that’s literally a subject for another day.

There aren’t a lot of givens in life — four of them being 1) Death; 2) Taxes. 3) Long lines at the checkout at Walmart; and 4) The price of a stamp will never go down.

If you need a fifth, it’s that you cannot use the phrase “Read to Succeed” too often.

If the kids listening to this reader had been older — say fifth-graders — they would have been told about going to garage sales and searching through stacks of books for those titles that seemed interesting ... in this reader’s case, about sports.

Betcha that during the grade-school years, this reader wore out the pages of two collections of sports stories — the Chip Hilton series and the Mel Martin Mystery series — both of which of which were then passed down to No. 1 son for his learning and enjoyment.

And they also would have been told about how when the kids get to be in grades 6-8, they will be reading books assigned from school, and how there’s an enormous benefit to have the child read aloud while the parent/grandparent listens. Not only can you explain the difficult words, but you can help with assignments that come forth in connection with the book.

It’s called working together. Or, to put it another way, you’re helping the child “Read to Succeed.”

■ Word has it that Novak-King School — where all the sixth-graders in the school district go — is closing at the end of the year. That will move all the sixth-graders into Neal Middle School, which will be for grades 6-8 instead of its current 7-8 setup.

Incidentally, the principal at Neal is Mike Grenda, who, back in the day, was the varsity football coach at North Chicago High School.

■ The most impressive thing about the Community Readers Day program actually occurred before the Readers disbursed to classrooms to read to the children.

In the gym/cafeteria at Green Bay, a select group of students from all the grades performed/sang to the song “Lean On Me.” They didn’t use the Bill Withers 1970s version, but rather a hip, modern version by the group Club Nouveau.

While the kids were performing, it occurred that not one of them knew that the song they were singing to was a hit way back in the day when their parents were just kids.

But that said, something much more important than the students’ performance took place in that gym/cafe.

With the room packed with a virtual Who’s Who from the community, the Green Bay students presented three community service projects they had been working on.

One involved card-making and letter-writing to residents of a local senior citizen facility.

The second was the results of the “Be Beary Kind” campaign in which stuffed bears and other stuffed animals were collected to be given to the North Chicago Police and North Chicago Fire departments for distribution to needy children and families.

The third involved the collecting of change and dollars to be donated to the local Make-A-Wish Foundation. One of those giant-size checks for $450 was presented to Make-A-Wish from the children at Green Bay to help the less fortunate.

What was inspiring, of course, is that here we had children from Green Bay School in North Chicago rallying to the cause — or three causes, to be exact ­— to help the less fortunate.

There’s a lesson there that the kids certainly are too young to get, but every adult in the gym understood. Here you have hundreds of children who are in need themselves, giving it their all to help people less fortunate than them.

That is about as special as you can get.

■ One of the Community Readers was North Chicago Mayor Leon Rockingham.

Forgot to remind him that we’re painting the city’s water tower next March, proclaiming North Chicago as the “Basketball Center of Lake County” the day after the Warhawks win the 2014 high school state basketball championship.

■ Don’t know much about it, but there is a program out there called Big Sisters/Little Sisters, which is a mentoring program in which the Big Sister helps the Little Sister navigate her way through life. Good idea.

One of the Big Sisters works at Abbott Labs in North Chicago and she was one of the Community Readers. And as luck would have it, her Little Sister is a fifth-grader at Green Bay School.

So, they teamed up and read to kindergartners together.

The fifth-grader was named Leilani, and she said she liked to play soccer. Which got the wheels turning that a half-dozen years from now, she might be playing soccer for North Chicago High School’s team and her picture and name could wind up in the paper for playing a good game.

And if that occurs, she’ll think that’s the first time her name made it into the paper. Only it won’t be. It’ll be the second time.

■ One of the next big events coming up at Green Bay School is something called “Relay Recess,” which is going to be held on May 3 to support “Relay For Life” It’s billed as “schools saving lives from cancer” and it will go from 1-2:30 that afternoon.

If you’re interested in walking that day at the school to support cancer research, contact Lynne Jeffries at Green Bay Elementary School at ljeffries@d187org.

And as soon as they amend the walking time from 90 minutes to 90 seconds, drop off the signup sheet at the newspaper office.

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