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Mary Woodward third-graders win a visit from K103.3s John Erickson

by: Barbara Sherman, THIRD-GRADERS HEAR ABOUT HORTON — Local radio newscaster John Erickson reads “Horton Hears a Who” to all the third-graders at Mary Woodward Elementary after they raised $384.39 out of a total $1,112.55 for the Make-a-Wish Foundation.

TIGARD - His voice wakes up thousands of people every weekday morning, but the lucky third-graders at Mary Woodward Elementary got to hear John Erickson, who does the 5 to 9 a.m. weekday show on K103.3 FM with Bruce Murdock and Dana Jeffries, read them a story - in person - Feb. 28.

The school held a coin drive competition between Feb. 12 and 22 to see which grade could raise the most money for the Make-a-Wish Foundation, which grants the wishes of children with cancer, and the third-graders won.

Erickson read the Dr. Seuss book, 'Horton Hears a Who,' about an imaginative elephant who hears a small speck of dust talking to him, which turns out to be a tiny planet and home to a city called Who-ville. Horton is subjected to ridicule by other animals for believing in something they can't see or hear.

The Whos finally make themselves heard by the other animals after all of them, including the smallest one of all, yell in unison.

Erickson used different voices as he read the story with enthusiasm and spirit, and all the kids applauded when he finished.

'I love that story,' Erickson said. 'I've never heard that story.'

He asked the kids for the names of their favorite Dr. Seuss books, and such favorites as 'Green Eggs and Ham' and 'The Cat in the Hat' popped up.

Erickson then explained what he does for his job.

'I read for my job and write,' he said. 'I love my job. I will mention Mary Woodward on the radio tomorrow morning. I mentioned you today on the radio and all you did. I love the radio station I'm on because families can listen to it.'

As for reading, Erickson said, 'Reading a book is the best thing in the world. I was in the third grade when I decided I wanted to be the guy on the radio and be a little famous. I get to meet famous people, and I get to go to schools. I got good at what I do - I read and write a lot. I read novels all the time - I love novels. I loved being read to in school.'

A girl told Erickson, 'My alarm clock is on your station,' and he told the class that 300,000 people listen to the morning program.

'How do I not get nervous?' he asked. 'Because they're listening one person at a time - at home, in their cars. Right now I'm standing in front of more people that I imagine I'm talking to.'

As for the Make-a-Wish fund-raiser, Erickson said, 'What this school did is really cool, really special.'

K103.3 started raising funds for the Make-a-Wish Foundation in 1996, according to Erickson, and the station holds an annual telethon.

'It's impressive to me how kids get behind this,' he said. 'I think it's partly because they're helping kids their own age. The caring sure comes through.'

Students presented Erickson with a stuffed animal - an elephant named Horton.

'It's going to live with me in the studio,' he said.

According to Principal Vickie Foiles, the entire school raised $1,112.55 during the fund-raiser, with the third grade collecting $387.39; in second place was the fourth grade, which earned $235.30.

'This was spearheaded by the teachers,' Foiles said. 'It was a friendly competition. We had large decorated water jugs in the entry, with one labeled for each grade, so the kids could see how the competition was going.

'The kids in first through fourth grade counted the money in math class, so it was a great math lesson. When we took the money to the bank, we were only off by 88 cents.'