January 2, 2012

Recap of Cedar City Tour

This is a long time coming, but I've finally found some time to post a recap on my tour to three schools in Cedar City, Utah. This recap was written by my father, Allen. Both of my parents joined me on the tour and I couldn't be more grateful for their help!

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Terron and his parents, Allen and Debbie, made an eventful trip to Cedar City, Utah on November 14-16. On Monday, they barely made it on time to Three Peaks Elementary because they were pulled over for speeding. One of the difficulties of looking for an unfamiliar location is noticing all road signs so as to not break traffic laws. Such was their plight as they missed the speed limit sign. Allen asked the police officer if he would follow them to the school that had just come into view and, surprisingly, the officer obliged. Terron and Debbie hurried into the school as Allen faced the long arm of the law. He didn’t realize that a teacher from the school, Mr. Hunt, had gone over to the police car and pleaded for leniency since they had driven a long way to help the school. It probably didn’t hurt that Officer Dunn is the brother-in-law of the author, Brandon Sanderson.

Terron was a little worried about the first assembly for the students of grades K-3, since their reading and writing skills are still emerging at that age. However, the assembly went very well as it followed the theme of expressing your imagination. It all started with some great fun when the principal and teachers selected random props to create an on-the-spot improv story. After being assigned a general topic, each person contributed to the story line and then passed it to the next participant. The students were then awestruck as Terron shared his prior experiences before he became an author: a teenage detective, king, hobbit, Jedi Knight, dragon rider, wizard, and sorcerer. They finally caught on when Terron told them that things didn’t always work out as he once experienced a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. At their tender young ages the kids were able to understand that these experiences can happen when they become immersed in literature.

The 4th and 5th grade students also enjoyed their assembly and weren’t fazed in the least when the school’s power-generating windmill couldn’t keep up with the electrical needs of the school, resulting in a 10-minute power failure. Actually, the timing of the power failure was perfect. The lights turned out exactly when Terron began reading the students’ Mad-Lib story about college werewolves.

The next day, Terron did 2 workshops at Enoch Elementary with the 4th and then the 5th grade students. A handful of students especially enjoyed sharing the stories they had written for their classmates. A cool thing happened when Terron agreed to stay after school for students who forgot their money to purchase a discounted copy of Insight. Two 5th grade boys burst into the school, having run all the way home and back again. Their passion for reading was evident in the smiles on their faces as they tried to catch their breath while expressing the satisfaction of knowing they had returned in time.

On the last day, assemblies were held at Canyon View Middle School for the 8th and then 6th grade students. One new element was added where Terron effectively taught students that one of the most valuable benefits of reading is creating one’s own images while interpreting the printed words. An exercise was presented where a description was read from Insight (Omar’s description of a kelsh), followed by the illustration from the novel. When the students were asked whether the illustration was exactly what they had imagined, only a few hands went up. The point was effectively made and followed up with another reading of a mountain clearing where a 16-year-old girl was taken after she was kidnapped. A contest was announced where the students were invited to go to Terron’s website and request the same reading so they could illustrate their personal interpretation of the scene. Obviously, the variation in the pictures they submit will drive home the idea of the diversity of individual imaginations. All illustrations will be due before the month ends, then they will be posted and judged by website viewers with a t-shirt being awarded for the entry receiving the most votes.

These students in Cedar City were the some of the most well-behaved, attentive and impressive to observe of all the workshops Terron has conducted. The school hosts were also very accommodating and gracious, making the road trip even more enjoyable.

Written by Terron’s father, Allen James

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Now for some pictures. Sorry about the darkness in some of them, but the power did go out, you know. :)

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