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Reading In at Duncombe - from The Messenger

February 2, 2019

police offer reading book to students sitting on floor

Imagine getting an entire day to curl up with a cozy blanket and a pillow with a really good book to keep you company with the only interruption being someone else coming along and reading to you.

For the third-grade students at Duncombe Elementary School, that was their Friday.

It was a daylong Read-In to honor National Read Aloud Day.

Teacher Erica Conley organized the day.

"It's a laid-back, fun day," she said.

The books for the day were either brought from home, borrowed from the school library or books in the classroom from each teacher's collection.

"Reading gives you all the advantages in the world," Conley said. "I would love to see all of them reading to their own kids someday. I'd like to have them have a love for reading as well."

The day also included several guest readers. The fourth-grade students came by to read. Fort Dodge Mayor Matt Bemrich read, as did several Iowa Central Community College student athletes.

The morning's first readers also included a group of Fort Dodge firefighters and a group of Fort Dodge police officers.

The firefighters brought along the department's Dalmatian, Ember.

After explaining what he does as a detective, Sgt. Donald McLaren was asked by one student if the department has dogs.

They do indeed: Ozzie and Abram.

Which led to another question.

"If you don't figure out a mystery does your dog figure it out?" the student asked.

While the two canines may not exactly do the Sherlock Holmes thing, they can smell contraband and they protect the officers.

Of course, there's a little interservice canine rivalry.

"We're cooler, we have two dogs," McLaren joked. "They're both bigger. The Fire Department's is more like a pet, ours actually work."


Good natured ribbing at the firefighters aside, McLaren said he frequently reads to and with his own children at home. He enjoyed the book, "Tacky in Trouble," by Helen Lester that he was reading to the students.

"It's pretty funny," he said.

School Resource Officer Joelyn Johnson and Officer Evan Thompson also took their turn.

Johnson enjoyed being able to interact with the younger students. She's posted in the high school and middle school and only rarely gets called to an elementary school.

"It's a big change," she said.

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