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Reports are coming in of Humphrey the Hamster, the lead character in the children’s book, “The World According to Humphrey,” being spotted at businesses and organizations all over Bay Village, Ohio. All Normandy Elementary students, their families, and many staff and community members are reading the book as part of National Reading Month in March and the school’s One School One Book program.


Humphrey made a live appearance on Monday, March 3, at Bay High School during an assembly for Normandy Elementary students. The book’s author, Betty G. Birney, also addressed the kindergarten-through-second-grade students through a pre-recorded video just for them. Humphrey himself (played by Bay High student Matt Szekely) then whipped the young students into a frenzy as he teased them by videoconferencing with Normandy Principal Dan Sebring from landmark locations in Bay Village including Malley’s Candies, Dairy Queen, Play-in-Bay playground and the Village Barber Shop. After much coaxing, he marched onto the Bay High auditorium stage, leading Bay High Marching Band musicians.


The assembly was the unveiling of the book selection, kept a secret but hinted at with video clues so that students had an opportunity to guess at the selection beforehand (video clues featured Humphrey arriving at Normandy Elementary in a lime green Kia provided by Halleen Kia of North Olmsted. Those interested in seeing the video clues can find them at http://www.bayvillageschools.com/OneSchoolOneBookClues).


One scene from the book was acted out by Bay Village resident Patrick Meehan, playing custodian Aldo Amato, with Humphrey being played by a puppet commandeered by Bay Village Schools teacher Eileen Meehan with voice provided by teacher Krista Reis. Music was provided by music teacher Nicole Barrick via xylophone. (The assembly video can be viewed at http://www.vimeo.com/88152572.)


Crew and musicians helping during the assembly included Bay High students Jakob Baker, Nathial Cullinan, Amanda Brian, Katy Quillin, Taylor Aslanis, Alistair Giffels, Evan Harms, Katherine Kotora, Rachel Lacure. Brynne Lariccia, Maddie Tomczak, and Grace Veres. The One School One Book Planning Committee included teachers Jama Jennings, Debbie Brax, Anne Hurtuck, Eileen Meehan, and Lori Reynolds; librarians Susan Bish, Julie Holland and Nancy Schley;  parents Tina Ingraham, Christy Knapp and Kathleen Roth; community partners Darci Sanders of the Lake Erie Nature and Science Center, and Joyce Sandy of the Bay Village Library; and volunteers Jim Bish, Pat Meehan and Bay High student Nikki Ningard.


Bay Village businesses and organizations who have agreed to display Humphrey’s photo and distribute raffle tickets include Bay Lanes, Bay Diner, Bay Village Board of Education, Bay Village Library, Bethesda-on-the-Bay Church, Burns Auto, Convenient Food Store, CVS, Glenview Childcare and Learning Center, Heinen’s Grocery Store, Kiddie Kollege, Lake Erie Nature & Science Center, Travel Masters, the U.S. Postal Office in Bay Village and the Village Barber Shop. These business owners also received their own copy of “The World According to Humphrey.”


“We hope that as our students cross paths with the adults reading about Humphrey, they will engage in conversations around literacy,” said Normandy Elementary Principal, Dan Sebring. “Not only are students and their families and teachers reading the book, but cafeteria workers, bus drivers, office staff and many local business owners will be also able to talk with students about Humphrey’s adventures.” Parents, staff and community members can also discuss the book on the Normandy Loves Humphrey blog at www.normandyloveshumphrey.wordpress.com.


The One School One Book program at Normandy Elementary was funded through a grant written by Principal Dan Sebring and awarded by the Bay Village Education Foundation, with funding for books also provided by the Normandy Elementary PTA.