Home Education and Careers Phillie Phanatic visits Ursuline Academy to recognize students’ appetite for reading: Photo...

Phillie Phanatic visits Ursuline Academy to recognize students’ appetite for reading: Photo gallery

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The Phillie Phanatic visits Ursuline. A dozen students' voracious reading got the attention of the Phillies through the Phanatic About Reading program. Dialog photo/Mike Lang

WILMINGTON — Nothing gets the Phillie Phanatic as excited as his baseball team, but reading might be a close second. The mascot for the Philadelphia Phillies was in Wilmington on Jan. 31 as a reward for the hard work of a group of students at Ursuline Academy who read their way into a visit from the big green creature from the Galapagos Islands.

Twelve students from a variety of grades in the Lower School logged 15,000 hours worth of reading, according to principal Samantha Varano, who was dressed in a Phillies shirt. They were taking part in the Phanatic About Reading program, which encourages children to pick up books and rewards them with visits by the Phanatic to their schools.

“This has been one of our goals, to get the Phanatic here with us,” Varano said.

The Phanatic’s team was paying attention from South Philadelphia, a Phillies employee told the students who gathered in the school hall.

“The Phanatic heard all about your good work and said he had to come see you,” he told the students, who dressed in Phillies red but also sported shirts from Philadelphia’s other pro teams, including the Union of Major League Soccer.

After the children yelled the magic words — “Let’s go Phillies!” — the Phanatic burst through the doors to loud cheers. He posed for a photo with the 12 students whose hard work earned the visit, then acted out his latest book, “The Phillie Phanatic’s Best Rain Delay Ever,” which was read by Ursuline third-grade teacher Maria Gorak.

The book tells about how the Phanatic spends a rain delay reading other books, and teachers play characters from those books. One was a firefighter, one a police officer, another a doctor and a fourth was the president of the United States.

The group sang “Take Me Out to the Ballgame,” the Phanatic’s favorite song, toward the end of the visit. Gorak got a big Phanatic kiss, and other teachers and students did not escape the Phanatic’s attention. Several were taught how to dance like the Phanatic, with the students cheering them on.

All photos by Mike Lang.