Each day this week, a different friendly face meets me in the lobby of the Yogo Inn and spirits me off to visit schools. This morning there were two friendly faces: Susan and Mike Stensaas, who braved the snow flurries to come get me. It was 32 outside, with a wind chill that made it feel like minus 10, but I was soon wrapped in cozy and warm conversation with these two great people. Mike’s a miner and assured me I would not be claustrophic underground (he doesn’t know me very well!) and Susan’s a teacher, the kind we all wish we’d had growing up.
Our drive took us through Judith Gap and by a wind turbine “farm” before we pulled into Harlowtown. Our destination was not the school, however, but the town movie theater! Some years ago, two teachers purchased the building for a dollar from the city and converted it into a school to work site where kids earn $$ toward college by running the theater. Is that the most amazing idea or what? So that’s where I was speaking — when I get home, I’ll post the photo of my name on the marquee to prove it.
The day passed much too quickly as I spoke to three groups of kids from Hillcrest (in Harlowtown) and a group of 5th-8th graders from nearby Ryegate. I have to say the junior high kids asked pretty sophisticated questions about writing — they kept me on my toes. One highlight was lunch with 5 kids who won the privilege by answering trivia questions about me! Over pizza, they quizzed me about books I’ve read and authors I’ve met. I can tell I’m going to have to pick up my reading pace to keep up with that well-read crew. I can honestly say I will never forget the only boy at the lunch, 8-year-old Tayt, who, dismayed by the fact that I have not read one football book, proceeded to tell me all of his favorites, including plot lines. As we parted company, I promised to read Million Dollar Throw, by Mike Lupica. If you’d met Tayt, you would have made that promise, too!
It’s hard to be away from home, but being with kids like those I was with today sure make it worth it.