Visiting author shared reading, writing and science at Ridge Park Elementary School

Colonial School District  |  Posted on
Author Michael Patrick O’Neill (front left) answers students’ questions at Ridge Park Elementary during lunch. Two students from each third grade class along with RP Library Media Specialist Kathy Farrington participated in the lunch.

Photographer and author Michael Patrick O’Neill has traveled the world taking pictures of aquatic animals and their habitats. To help develop the next generation of animal advocates, Mr. O’Neill wrote seven nonfiction children’s books and shared his craft with the the K-3 in students in Colonial, including those at Ridge Park Elementary School (RP).

“It’s so inspiring to get young people motivated about reading, writing, science and conservation and to get them excited to pursue their dreams like I have,” said the author.

Mr. O’Neill peppered his photographs throughout his presentation during an assembly in the gym.

“I liked when he was showing the really deep animals, like the diamond squid,” said RP Third Grader Nathan Marsico. “They just looked cool, how they glowed in the dark.”

During the assembly, the students also learned about the writing process and the career of being an author.

“They can teach you stuff that you didn’t know, like there’s a difference between writing a book and a magazine article,” said RP Third Grader Tate Carpenter. “[A magazine article] starts with the action, and then it fills in all the blanks. Books go more from beginning to the middle to the end.”

The timing of the nonfiction author’s presentation was particularly beneficial for the third grade students, who are starting their research projects in English Language Arts.

“It’s great for them to actually see a final product that they could make from the information they’re collecting,” said Kathy Farrington, RP Library Media Specialist.

Mr. O’Neill visited Conshohocken Elementary School, Plymouth Elementary School and Whitemarsh Elementary School. Now a resident of Florida, the author graduated from Lehigh University and considers Pennsylvania his “home away from home.”