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Islanders Celebrate Literacy Day

by Staff Writer / New York Islanders
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Doug Weight and Frans Nielsen visited George A. Jackson in Jericho
For the fourth year in a row, the Islanders players took part in Literacy Day, presented by Davis Vision and National Grid, and contributed to the global cause to promote reading and writing among our youths. On Tuesday morning, all 25 players traveled to elementary and middle schools on Long Island to share their thoughts on reading, answer questions, read a story and sign autographs.
Literacy Day has become an annual tradition for the Islanders that not only positively affects the kids at the schools, but also touches the players. It's a day in which hits home, especially for those players with kids of their own.
"I was thinking of how this day relates to my kids numerous times as I was reading," said Doug Weight, who along with Frans Nielsen, visited George A. Jackson Elementary school in Jericho. "I read to my kids as much as I can. When you have kids, you certainly gain perspective of kids at other schools and their parents. It's really important for the Islanders to be part of the community and be someone that they can look up to in a positive way."
The players at each school took their places in gymnasiums in front of hundreds of excited children, many of them Islanders fans sporting their favorite team's jerseys. The players then introduced themselves before reading a book. Many of the children heard one of the popular "Brady Brady" books.
Rick DiPietro and Bruno Gervais visited East Broadway School in Seaford
Following the reading, the players discussed why reading was important not only to children, but to the players as well.
"Reading is one of the most important things you have to learn," said Weight to the attentive children. "Whether you're looking at a sign, a newspaper or learning to tell a joke, reading makes all of it easier. Whether you become a hockey player, doctor, lawyer or dancer, it's important to know how to read."
Most of the Islanders hail from either the United States or Canada and consider English their first language. However, a few, like Sean Bergenheim (Finland) and Frans Nielsen (Denmark) speak English as their second or third language.
"Learning is also important for learning other languages," said Bill Guerin, after Sean Bergenheim spoke in Finnish to students of Bayville Intermediate School, who were impressed. "Reading is used in many different aspects of life."
Another group having an enjoyable time on Literacy Day were the students of East Broadway School in Seaford. Rick DiPietro and Bruno Gervais got on the loud speaker and sparked a "Let's Go Islanders" chant that resonated throughout the school.
"This was the most energetic school I've been to yet," said DiPietro. “It was great to see all of the students wearing Islanders clothing and colors. I had a good time reading to the kids and hope everyone learned a little bit about the value of reading."
Mark Streit, Jack Hillen and Josh Bailey visited Duffield Elementary School in Ronkonkoma
While the kids were undoubtedly thrilled to have the Islanders players at their school, it was the teachers and administrators of the schools, who were most appreciative of their visit.
"It's so important for our young kids to realize the importance that the skill of reading is for the rest of their lives," said George A. Jackson principal Benny D'Aquila. "We can say it every day, but to hear it from Doug Weight and Frans Nielsen, it means more to them because they're so excited. Doug definitely has some teaching skills that have been untapped. When he retires from hockey, he could find a career in teaching. We'd love to have him here."

A list of the Long Island schools visited on Islanders Literacy Day

Bill Guerin and Sean Bergenheim visited Bayville Intermediate School
Rick DiPietro and Bruno Gervais visited East Broadway School in Seaford
Brendan Witt and Richard Park visited Washington Primary School in Huntington Station
Mike Sillinger and Nate Thompson visited Corpus Christi School in Mineola
Doug Weight and Frans Nielsen visited George A. Jackson in Jericho
Mike Comrie and Trent Hunter visited Center Street School in Williston Park
Andy Sutton and Jeff Tambellini visited Stokes Elementary School in Levittown
Mark Streit, Jack Hillen and Josh Bailey visited Duffield Elementary School in Ronkonkoma
Chris Campoli and Radek Martinek visited Old Mill Road Elementary School in Merrick
Freddy Meyer and Andy Hilbert visited Willow Road School in Franklin Square
Jon Sim and Kyle Okposo visited Jackson Main Elementary School in Hempstead
Joey MacDonald and Thomas Pock visited Manetuck Elementary School in West Islip

Watch IslandersTV video of Jon Sim's annual event where kids play against the pros in New Brunswick.

Also watch IslandersTV video of Executive Reading Week at Camp Avenue with Bruno Gervais.

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