The magic of ‘Mr. Michael’ carries lessons

First Posted: 9/13/2014

Respect was the topic of the afternoon on Sept. 12 at Wycallis Elementary’s Officer Phil Presentation.

Michael Spinella, of Delaware City, Del. served as both entertainer and educator for the kindergarten to third-grade students from Wycallis and Dallas Elementary schools.

Wycallis principal Thomas Traver began the afternoon wearing a patriotic top hat. He asked the children the purpose of the hat and explained that the day commemorated the 200th anniversary of the composition of The Star Spangled Banner.

Traver said that he and assistant principal Brian Bradshaw plan to have more events where the students from both elementary schools participate together. The Dallas Township Police Department helped raise funds to bring the Officer Phil program to the school.

Spinella (known to the students as Mr. Michael) is a former high school teacher and magician. This was his first appearance at the Dallas School District. Dallas School Officer Gina Kotowski was Spinella’s assistant during the presentation as the two addressed the issue of safety belt usage.

Victoria Wicht, a third-grade student from Dallas Elementary, was the student assistant for a portion of the show.

Mr. Michael entertained the students with various magic tricks, complete with a magic bag, while emphasizing the meaning of respect, as well as incorporating a variety of safety rules. He taught the students about various forms of respect, such as respect for teachers, police officers, fire fighters, parents, each other, explaining to the students that it all starts with respect for themselves.

Mr. Michael detailed safety procedures regarding internet safety by explaining that students should never give out information such as their name, address, phone number or passwords on the internet to people they don’t know. He also spoke on the cyber bullying and “what do if you are a victim.”

Another important issue Mr. Michael spoke about was bus safety. Students received instructions to respect their bus driver, stay in their seats, to not shout, jump or run around on the bus, so that everyone is able to enjoy a safe and peaceful ride.

Mr. Michael displayed different colored rabbits, explaining that although people look different, everyone can get along, despite differences. On the subject of bullies, Mr. Michael showed how easy it is to turn “bully” into “buddy” and also how students can make an instant friend by talking to a child who is new to the school.

Turbo Turtle made his appearance during the presentation and discussed the dangers of poison ivy. He also told the young students that they can show respect for their bodies by exercising and eating healthy foods.

The presentation highlighted what to do when encountering strangers: “if you don’t know, then don’t go” was repeated by the audience. When encountering a stranger trying to get a young person to go with them, the rules are “run, yell and tell.” The children were also told that adults do not ask children for directions or help and there was a discussion on various scenarios where a stranger will try to use a believable story in order to get a child in the car.

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