PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The New Year is starting off right for several Philadelphia-area schools selected to receive a special visit from the Phillies.

On Thursday, St. Francis Xavier School in Fairmount was the first of seven elementary schools to be treated this year to a special assembly with the Phillie Phanatic as part of the Phillies’ Be a Phanatic About Reading program.

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More than 100,000 local students take part in the program, which encourages children to read at least 15 minutes a day.

St. Francis Xavier School is a top participant and was selected to receive a visit from the Phanatic for the students’ reading achievements.

During his visit, the Phanatic acted out one of the books from his children’s book series with help from the students and faculty.

Students at the school also got the chance to dance around and sings songs with the big green mascot, like ‘Take Me Out To The Ball Game.’

And whether they were in kindergarten or 8th grade, every student had their favorite thing about the Phillie Phanatic.

“The fact that he’s always jolly, that’s the best part.”

“He walks funny.”

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“He dances.”

“He’s fantastic — with a PH.”

“He’s green and he jumps on people. That’s my favorite part about him.”

“When he jumps around and messes with people. He’s clumsy and amazing.”

All of the lucky students in attendance received a Phillies rally towel.

Classrooms that participate in the program receive pencils, bookmarks, and posters to use as incentives.

In May, the Phillies will honor five Most Outstanding Readers and five Most Improved Readers selected from the program during the annual Be a Phanatic About Reading Night at the ballpark.

The following schools will also receive a special visit this year from the Phillie Phanatic:

  • Hurfville School – Sewell, NJ (Be a Phanatic About Reading)
  • East Vincent School – Spring City, PA (Be a Phanatic About Reading)
  • St. Monica School – Philadelphia, PA (Be a Phanatic About Reading)
  • Brainerd Elementary School – Mt Holly, NJ (Phillies Phitness)
  • McKinley Elementary School – Philadelphia, PA (Phillies Phitness)
  • St. Anthony of Padula – Philadelphia, PA (Be a Phanatic About Reading)
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