Read Across America Day 2020: UH Hilo staff and student-athletes read aloud to schoolchildren

Teams of UH Hilo Vulcan athletes and staff from the Division of Student Affairs read their fave Dr. Seuss books to schoolchildren of East Hawai‘i on March 2 as part of nationwide Read Across America Day, a day to inspire kids to read. 

By Susan Enright

Woman seated in front of group of children, she has book in hand turned so children can see the pictures as she reads.
UH Hilo Women’s Basketball player Malia Lee reads to children at Read Across America Day event on campus March 2, Campus Center. Courtesy photo from UH Hilo Division of Student Affairs.

Staff and student-athletes from the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo read aloud to classes of East Hawai‘i schoolchildren on Monday as part of a nationwide outreach program to inspire kids to read. Read Across America Day, held March 2, is the nation’s largest reading event for schoolchildren and the birthday celebration of beloved children’s book author Dr. Seuss.

Teams of Vulcan athletes donned their Cat-in-the-Hat headgear and ventured out into the community to several schools to read their fave Dr. Seuss books to the children. Several other classes of schoolchildren were welcomed onto campus by staff from the Division of Student Affairs, where Dr. Seuss books were read aloud and Sodexo served up snacks for the youngsters.

Vulcan athletes visit local schools

Logo: Big "V" with flame.This was the fifth year that UH Hilo student-athletes visited elementary school classrooms to share Dr. Seuss books. Over the years, Vulcan student-athletes have read to over 10,000 keiki on the east side of Hawai‘i Island. On Monday, athletes visited classrooms of nearly 2,700 elementary students from Kea‘au to Keaukaha, reading selections from the wonderful books of Dr. Suess and mingling with the kids.

“I am happy to say this annually, that this is one of my favorite days of the year,” says UH Hilo athletic director Patrick Guillen. “This has grown from reading to 1,800 children our first year doing this in 2016 to almost 2,700 last year. It’s a big part of who we are in reaching out and connecting with our local youth and the community.”

The athletes visited elementary schools Ha‘aheo, Kea‘au, Keaukaha, Waiakea, Kaumana and Hilo Union. Teams were that participated were women’s cross country, both the men’s and women’s soccer, volleyball, men’s and women’s basketball, tennis, golf and baseball. The UH Hilo softball team had a doubleheader on Monday, but they typically have been involved as well.

“Thank you to our student-athletes and coaches for their continued support of our local keiki and schools,” says Guillen.

Division of Student Affairs welcomes schoolchildren to campus

Logo: University of Hawai‘i at Hilo Social and Community Building, Division of Student AffairsThis year, for the first time, staff from the UH Hilo Division of Student Affairs also participated in UH Hilo’s Read Across America Day. The division’s Social and Community Building Committee coordinated DSA staff members who welcomed classes from three nearby preschools to campus. Schoolchildren from E Maka’ala Preschool, Joyland Preschool, and Kamehameha Preschool attended readings at the Campus Center and the University Classroom Building.

Other units on campus contributed to the on-campus event. Sodexo dining service donated fun and kid-friendly food, staff and students in the First Year Experience program made decorations, and Kīpuka Native Hawaiian Student Center provided lauhala mats. Student-athletes from the UH Hilo Vulcan Women’s Basketball Team, Jessica Goodluck and Malia Lee; Admissions Office student staff Leicha-May White (an alumna of Kamehameha Preschool); and Financial Aid Office’s Kolby Santiago volunteered to read.

“The schoolchildren walked over and were welcomed by Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Farrah-Marie Gomes,” says Malia Callo, record specialist at the Office of the Registrar and chair of the Social and Community Building Committee. “Each preschool was then divided up to each volunteer reader.”

After reading time, the kids enjoyed the snacks and each school had the opportunity to take pictures with the decorations provided by staff and students of the First Year Experience, and the organizing committee members.

“We ended the event with sending off the schools with some UH Hilo and Dr. Seuss gear!” says Callo.

Schoolgirl reaches for orange in basket.
The schoolchildren enjoyed snacks provided by Sodexo dining service. Courtesy photo from UH Hilo Division of Student Affairs.


Story by Susan Enright, a public information specialist for the Office of the Chancellor and editor of UH Hilo Stories. She received her bachelor of arts in English and certificate in women’s studies from UH Hilo.