Maine's first lady reads to Lewiston second-graders

LEWISTON — Farwell Elementary School second-graders had a special story time Thursday.

Amber Waterman/Sun Journal

Maine's first lady, Ann LePage, reads the children's book, “Otis,” to a group of second-graders and their teachers at Farwell Elementary School in Lewiston on Thursday.

Ann LePage had to show her license to get in

LEWISTON — Before first lady Ann LePage was ushered into Farwell Elementary School on Thursday, she had to produce her ID.

As part of school security, anyone visiting Farwell — or any Lewiston school during school hours — must show a driver's license or some other official identification.

There was a slight hiccup. LePage came to the school with a plainclothes state trooper and no identification.

When told everyone has to show identification to visit, "Mrs. LePage chuckled and said she understood," Farwell School Principal Althea Walker said. She sent the state police officer back to the car three times before he got her identification, Walker said.

Superintendent Bill Webster said the School Department has tightened up on how they let visitors into schools during the day. "We're not making exceptions," Webster said, before being told about the first lady.

Overall, the response to the no ID-no entry policy has been positive, Webster said. A few parents have been annoyed, but "many parents have expressed it makes them feel their children are indeed in a safe place," he said.

In an era of school shootings, requiring identification from visitors has become more common, according to the Maine Department of Education.

School Facilities Specialist Pat Hinckley said opinions vary about best practices in school security, but requiring an official ID is a practice that is increasing nationally.

In Auburn, schools require identification from visitors unless school personnel know the visitor, Superintendent Katy Grondin said. All visitors are required to check in at the office and are identified, she said.

Maine's first lady, Ann LePage, read the children's book, “Otis,” as part of a national “Read for the Record,” during which the same book was read across the country to set a record for the largest shared reading experience. The goal was to promote reading.

Not long after LePage arrived with a state trooper, two classes of second-graders filed into the library, took a seat on the floor and looked up at their guest.

“Hello, everyone! How are you?” LePage asked.

“Good morning,” the class answered in unison.

She asked how many had read “Otis." A few hands went up. She showed them a stuffed "Otis" doll (a smiling tractor), opened the book and began reading.

“There was once a friendly little tractor, his name was Otis. Every day Otis and his farmer worked together taking care of the farm ... "

As she read, LePage asked the class if anyone lived on a farm. No hands went up. “Does anybody have a tractor?” Half a dozen hands shot up. “Lots of tractors,” LePage said, returning to the story about a friendship between an old tractor and a young calf, how the farmer replaced the old tractor with a big, loud, new tractor. Then one day the calf got stuck in the mud pond.

“Do you think they're going to get him out?” LePage asked.

Some pupils said no, others said yes.

The story ended with the new tractor unable to rescue the calf and the old tractor saving it.

LePage thanked the children for their applause. “You were all wonderful," she said. "Because you were wonderful, I'm going to give you a surprise.”

As students left the library, LePage gave each a copy of the book. She exchanged high-fives, and stood with each child for a picture.

Ethan Rinko, 7, said he liked the story. Displaying excellent retention skills, he shared his favorite part. “I like it when Otis got the baby calf out of the mud pond.”

Summer Nelson, 7, said she liked it when the tractor and calf played running “in a circle around the mud pond.”

Neither student knew what a first lady was, but they understood LePage's visit was a big deal.

“I like her,” Nelson said. “Me too,” said Rinko.

The power of the first lady's visit “is first and foremost, reading,” teacher Diane Nadeau said. She had talked to her class about how the school was selected for the reading, that it was a special opportunity for them. “I think they felt pretty special about that,” Nadeau said.

LePage, a grandmother of two, participates in the annual “Read for the Record.” Last year, 2.3 million people participated. Reading to children, showing them it is important, is critical, LePage said.

“As my husband says, 'You learn to read and you read to learn,'" the first lady said. "If you can learn to read a book, you can do just about anything. That's how important it is.”

First lady Ann LePage read "Otis" to Lewiston second-graders Thursday.

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Carol Durgin's picture

First Lady reads to children at Farwell School

I think it is so important that children learn to read. I also think it is wonderful for those interested, to be able to give their time to read to children. My husband and I have done it here in Florida. The children get so involved and excited to have you come. Another thing that should be brought to the attention of the readers is this, Mrs LePage had to show her ID in order to be admitted into the school.I think it is a good idea. There are many places where an ID card is a must. Opening a bank account, cashing a check, boarding a plane and renewing your drivers license. Why should they not be a must when going to the voting booth?

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

The only reason a person

The only reason a person could have against having to show an ID to vote is that it deprives them of the opportunity to cheat. All these other reasons given by the democrats and liberals are lies and hyperbole.


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