HARVARD -- In what has become a tradition for Interim School Superintendent Joseph Connelly, children gathered on Tuesday for Connelly's reading of "The Polar Express."

Connelly explained to the third-graders that it was a favorite of his son Michael, one of his five children, who now works in the Lincoln-Sudbury school district. When Connelly was looking for a book to read to students years ago, Connelly recalled his son ran up to h is bedroom and brought down his copy of "The Polar Express" and insisted his father read it to the school children.

Connelly recalled his son proclaiming, "It's my favorite." Reading from his son's copy of the book, Connelly donned a train conductor's hat and took the class on a journey.

"The Polar Express," first published in 1985, is the Caldecott Medal-winning book written and illustrated by Chris Van Allsburg. It's the story of a boy who loved Christmas, hears a train whistle, and is shocked to find the train waits for him.

When the boy asks where they're going, the conductor explains, "Why, to the North Pole, of course!"

The train is filled with chocolate and candy and other children in their pajamas. When the story describes hot chocolate as rich as melted candy bars, Connelly stopped reading.

Then, dressed in a chef's coat and hat, Hildreth Elementary School Principal Linda Dwight wheeled a cart carrying pitchers of hot chocolate into the classroom.


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The children listened in rapt attention to the rest of the story while munching on cookies and sipping hot chocolate.