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Staley Da Bear promotes Bears reading program at Hiawatha

Staley Da Bear high-fives a group of students Tuesday at Hiawatha Elementary School in Kirkland during a visit as part of the Chicago Bears Tackle Reading program.
Staley Da Bear high-fives a group of students Tuesday at Hiawatha Elementary School in Kirkland during a visit as part of the Chicago Bears Tackle Reading program.

KIRKLAND – Hiawatha Elementary students learned Tuesday afternoon there’s more to Staley Da Bear than his antics at Soldier Field.

Staley and emcee Lauren Hart visited the school to promote the Chicago Bears’ Tackle Reading program, thanks to the Kirkland Public Library.

“We’re thrilled we were able to do this program and we’re thrilled with the response from students and teachers,” librarian Linda Fett said at the end of the program.

Fett said the library brought the program to the school primarily because more students could participate by checking out books from the village and school libraries. She said the program cost less than $300.

“I’m expecting a lot more books to be checked out after this,” school librarian Angie Messenger said.

After awarding prizes for answering trivia questions about the team, Hart prompted her audience to chant “Sta-ley, Sta-ley” as she introduced the official mascot of the Chicago Bears. She and Staley spent the next 45 minutes dancing, playing games, talking about vocabulary words related to reading and providing information about the four-week reading program.

Participants who complete the program each receive a certificate signed by Staley. They also are entered in a drawing to be one of 100 kids winning a practice experience with the Bears at Halas Hall.

Hart said she is one of three emcees who travel with Staley within a 100-mile radius of Soldier Field for school programs. Along with Tackle Reading, other programs are Bear Down on Bullies, and First & Goal, a fitness program.

“There is just one Staley, though,” Hart said.

She said Staley performs at all home games and about 350 school shows each year. “Most weeks, we’re in 10 to 15 schools,” she said.

Scott Adams, the mascot coordinator for the Bears, developed all the school programs Staley presents, Hart said. She said recent restructuring has made the shows more affordable, and thus more accessible for schools.

Hiawatha Elementary principal Jared Poynter said the school was glad to have Staley on hand.

“We were really excited when the library contacted us and wanted to partner with us for this program,” Poynter said.

What’s next

Hiawatha Elementary students each received a “Tackle Reading” booklet containing literacy games and a program chart.

Readers are urged to read one book a week for “four quarters,” and fill in information about the title, author, tell why they would or would not recommend the book to a friend and write or draw a picture about the book.

After submitting the booklet to their teacher, readers will receive a certificate signed by Staley Da Bear. Those who receive certificates also will be entered to win a practice experience with the Chicago Bears at Halas Hall.

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