EASTPOINTE — The third grade students in James Hagwood’s classroom at Bellview Elementary School giggled when Eastpointe’s 38th District Court Judge Kathleen Galen began reading the book “Walter the Farting Dog Goes On A Cruise.”
Every time Walter had a gas pain while on the cruise ship, the students paid close attention to how he handled the situation.
“This book is for everyone who has ever felt judged or misunderstood,” Galen said.
The judge, who wore her robe to class, was among several guest readers who visited the school March 25 to celebrate March is Reading Month. Bellview is part of Eastpointe Community Schools, and the home to third, fourth and fifth grade students. The reading event was dubbed “Reading With Rockstars,” and members of the Eastpointe Rotary Club coordinated the afternoon.
“We created ‘Reading With Rockstars’ to show kids how fun and important reading is to their future development,” Galen said. “Reading and comprehension is a fundamental, core skill set to excel in all aspects of life.”
The guest readers were Galen; Sunny Love, weekend on-air host on 92.3 “The Mix”; Eastpoint Police Detective Marcel Prude; Macomb County 16th Circuit Court Judge Teri Lynn Dennings; Motor City Pawn Brokers owner Mark Aubrey; radio disc jockey Kevin O’Neill from several stations including 96.3 WDVD and 760 WJR; and singer/songwriter Tiffany Belzar, of the indie rock band DD White.
The guest readers visited various classrooms to read to the students. Marie Guerra Easterby, co-owner of Cloverleaf Bar & Restaurant in Eastpointe and Rotary Club member, took photos of the event. When Galen finished reading to Hagwood’s students, O’Neill got out “The Giving Tree.”
“It was one of my mother’s favorite books. She gave this one to me. It’s a really simple story, but I think it teaches a good lesson,” he told the students. “It’s always been of my favorites. It’s a great book. The author, Shel Silverstein, is very clever. He’s very funny. He’s a very good author.”
The radio personality also told the class that he was in the third grade in 1960-61.
“That was a while ago. We had a presidential election that year,” he said. “Thank you for having myself and the judge in here. We really appreciate it.”
Belzar, who brought her 2 1/2-year-old daughter, Cassietta, read the book “Gus & Me: The Story of My Granddad and My First Guitar,” which was written by famed Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards. His daughter, Theodora Richards, did the artwork.
“It’s our favorite book,” Belzar said with her daughter by her side. “Mommy didn’t get through this book without crying the first year because I love music so much.”
One student raised his hand when Belzar asked, “Do we have any Stones fans? The Rolling Stones were like the grandfathers of rock ‘n’ roll.”
In another classroom, Aubrey and Love read and talked about their careers. Love asked the students about their career goals. There were a couple of upcoming dancers in the crowd and a few budding football stars.
“It takes practice, and it takes reading,” Love said, who read “Pig the Star.” “I think you all look like stars. You can become whatever you want to become.”
Aubrey, who read the book “JT’s Big Plan: An Entrepreneur Kid,” by Tamara Prather, had a special gift for the students: paper money from Venezuela and coins from Canada, Germany and Sweden.
“When I was in fourth grade, I started to collect coins,” Aubrey said. “Keep them and start your own collection. In your spare time, you can read about coins.”