Dooley Bear, a gregarious chocolate Labrador with a penchant for travel and the subject of more than a few books, dropped into Holy Cross Anglican School in the San Mateo neighborhood on Wednesday for some petting and pizza.
Dooley brought along his literary partners, Ronnie and Lisa Cyrier, so that they could read some of the books about his adventures to a special gathering of students.
The occasion was the first Christmas Party of the newly resurrected volunteer literacy program which is designed to help students of all grade levels to enhance their reading, pronunciation and comprehension skills. The program is operated by a dedicated group of volunteers from the San Pedro community under the leadership of Susan Barkhouse and Brittney O’Daniel.
Dooley Bear and the kids of Holy Cross were a great match. Lisa Cyrier is a speech pathologist who conceived of the books as a way to encourage and improve language skills and that’s what these kids are all about, too. Ronnie Cyrier illustrates the books and Dooley is in charge of canine antics that can be turned into amusing stories and illustrations.
The kids were all about the pizza, too. That came from Brittney O’Daniel and her Sandbar Hostel on Boca del Rio.
In between these two attractions, Susan Barkhouse gave a dramatic reading of “Twas the Night Before Christmas” with help from a cast of dozens. Each student was handed a file card with a key word from the text on it and a number on the back.
As Susan read, Ronnie Cyrier held up the corresponding number to the missing word in the text. Only after the student holding that card shouted out the word could Susan resume reading. And only after the reading could the students consume the pizza.
More win-win in Belize!
And full disclosure: This is the program in which I volunteer on Wednesdays, just a small part of the bigger play. I’m so very proud of how hard these kids work and how much enthusiasm they bring to the one-on-one sessions.
So is everyone else! That’s why the pizza party was put on just a few days before they break for the Christmas holiday! Enjoy the pictures — these kids are the future of Ambergris Caye and we all want then off to the best start possible when it is their turn to rock this island!
By the way, Dooley Bear has his own Facebook page right here.