Mystery in the schools
Who’s moving chairs and turning things upside down?
by By Joseph Passantino
Reporter staff writer
Mar 12, 2014 | 4393 views | 0 0 comments | 131 131 recommendations | email to a friend | print
RAPT ATTENTION – The approximately two dozen students are all ears listening to the book reading by one of the “Silly McGilly” authors.
RAPT ATTENTION – The approximately two dozen students are all ears listening to the book reading by one of the “Silly McGilly” authors.
Things put on classroom walls that hadn’t been there before? Items that were formerly rightside up, now found upside down? Green fish in the toilet?

Those were some of the claims of kindergarteners at the Mary J. Donohoe School on Thursday, March 6, and to someone not in the know, they defied explanation. But not in teacher Sherri Yannaccone’s class.

The 24 children understood the strange occurrences were the handiwork of one playful individual, “Silly McGilly,” a friendly leprechaun.

The students had this insight because that week they were reading the Silly McGilly book in anticipation of his visit during this St. Patrick’s Day season, as well as a special stop at the school by one of the book’s authors. You see, while Silly McGilly lives in Ireland, he makes a special point to visit the United States during March each year to play practical jokes and create a little mischief.

Students were asked to read his book, then place a doll by a window in the classroom to alert McGilly to play tricks.

According to legend, the mornings after such a display, the tricks run the gamut from leaving chocolate coins, shamrocks, or St. Patrick’s Day stickers to turning over chairs or leaving cabinets open.

One Donohoe student awoke to find his videogame turned on at home after he had turned it off the night before.

“Silly McGilly turned my bed upside down and I went upside down with it,” said another.

“I saw something in my toilet, and it was a green fish,” said Darian DeJesus, 6.

“Boys and girls, I didn’t tell you, but when I came into my office today, things were different from yesterday,” said Principal Philip Baccarella. “A chair was upside down. He’s playing tricks on everybody, even the principal.”

Authors’ visit

The authors of Silly McGilly, Michelle Dougherty, Victoria Coffey, and Eileen Cowley, fanned out on March 6 and 7 across the school district to read excerpts from the book to six kindergarten classes.

Cowley was the speaker at Donohoe, and she enchanted students with the tales of the book’s pint-sized hero.

Other schools that were visited by the Silly McGilly author were Dr. Walter F. Robinson, Washington Community, Philip G. Vroom, Midtown Community, and Nicholas Oresko. The events were part of the “Read Across America Week.”

On March 5, Lincoln Community School hosted a visit by the “The Cat in the Hat” to celebrate the birthday of the author.

Joseph Passantino may be reached at

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