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Big names take little seats at Glen Oaks reading day

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State Assemblyman Mark Weprin (D-Bayside) was happy to stand in front of a smiling, genial audience Friday that was unlikely to challenge him with tough questions or bombard him with complaints.

"My name is Mark Weprin, and the reason I'm here is because I'm something called an assemblyman," he told the group.

It was the annual Read to Children Day at PS 115 in Glen Oaks, and Weprin was one of several public officials, school board members and parents who volunteered to share a book with an elementary school class.

"Assembly-man!" he added in super-hero voice.

Weprin squeezed himself into a chair designed for a 7-year-old body and opened a copy of "The Boy in the Drawer" by Robert Munch and Michael Martchenko.

The 21 members of Clare Galanek's second-grade class sat huddled together on the floor in front of the assemblyman, listening intently as the Bayside Democrat read. The story concerned a mysterious tiny-size boy who appears in a girl's sock drawer.

When he finished, he quizzed the class.

"Do you think that's a true story?" he asked.

"No, no, no," 21 little voices answered back.

PS 115 has held the event every spring since Marjorie Fein became principal nine years ago. Other guests Friday included state Sen. Frank Padavan (R-Bellerose), Marc Haken and Susan Seinfeld, representatives of Councilman David Weprin (D-Hollis) and Laurence Levy, former deputy counsel to Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and president of the Twin Towers Fund.

"It's about literacy," said Fein. "It shows people from the community who have risen to great heights. Most of the people who come went to New York City schools."

Fein herself is a graduate of PS 221 in Crown Heights, Brooklyn and both her children attended city public schools.

Weprin said the event was a welcome break from the tribulations of meetings in his district and budget negotiations in Albany.

"I love going to schools," he said. "Kids rarely complain about things. They're excited about everything ... everything is new."

Reach reporter Alex Ginsberg by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 157.

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