LAST FRIDAY I LOOKED OUT ACROSS A SEA OF EIGHTY young faces of 5th graders at the Jr. High School in Waverly, Ohio. I felt a little nervous. Would a group of eleven-twelve year old kids find what I had to say interesting? Would I bore them to tears? Would they maybe just ignore me?
I was asked to speak to a morning and afternoon group of students, 160 in total, Their teacher, Ms. Hicks had heard me speak at her garden club and asked me to come down and speak to her two reading classes. They were beginning to read the Harry Potter books. The room was decorated with brooms, potion bottles, and items you would see in the classes of Hogwarts.
A couple students came up to me and showed me collectible Harry Potter items they had purchased. The principle had bought pizza for the event and allowed the teachers to wear jeans and tee-shirts. The teacher selected three of the more muscular boys to help me carry my boxes and equipment in. The secretaries at the main desk created me warmly and told me everyone had been excited about my arrival. I felt like a celebrity!
I spoke about the myths/folklore of plants and the newest research about how plants lean, remember, and communicate between themselves. I explained how plants alter their pollination process to stop bugs from eating them. Some plants excrete poison that is deadly to the insects. I finished up discussing plant ecology and conservation. At the end we discussed the magical plants in the Harry potter books and how I used magical herbs in my books. Many of the magic herbs in Harry Potter are mythical plants, while I have a few ‘invented’ plants in my books I have tried to stick with the folklore and the supposed magic of real plants, many found growing in Ohio.
We had question and answer time at the end and I was so pleased by the intelligent and well thought out questions. A few knew additional info about the plants I had discussed and they shared their knowledge. Many wanted to know where ideas come from for a book and how did it feel to see my ideas and thoughts in a final book form. The social studies teacher asked several questions and the kids would sometimes piggy-back on his discussion.
I got to eat lunch with the teachers in the inner sanctum of the teachers lounge! When I was growing up the teacher’s lounge was that secret place teachers disappeared to and all kids were forbidden to enter!
The second session with an additional 80 kids went well. The principle even came to hear me. The students in both groups were bright, attentive, eager, interested and a joy to spend the day with!
Again a student asked what inspired me to write and I told the group of young people to never be afraid to dream … dream big dreams … work toward those dreams. As time goes on you might have to alter or abandon a dream for a new dream … I am so grateful I have been able to achieve many of my dreams both big and small. I dreamed of someday meeting Mr. Spock (Leonard Nimoy), but he recently passed so that dream went unfulfilled! I still dream of someday orbiting the Earth, even if its one low pass around the planet. Presently they are charging 250 thousand to buy a ticket on the Virgin Galactic Spacecraft. I guess I’d better get busy