OUR STORIES, a new tradition at David Harrison Elementary School

Hi everyone,

Yesterday I loved every minute of my time at David Harrison Elementary School. Superintendent of Schools, GRANITA LATHAN was there and gave out packets of free books to every child. I learned later that she has done that for every 1st – 5th grade student in the entire district!

I was given a seat of honor at the front of the gymnasium where I could wave at the kids as they came in. I was then presented with two books, one made by each of the 4th grade classes and their teachers, JAMIE BAUMANN and SHANNON BOSSING plus the super talent of art teacher KEVIN ZIMMERMAN.

Each book, titled, Our Stories, is a compilation of information (plus picture) of every graduating 4th grade student at Harrison, the first editions of what is going to become an annual tradition. The books are dedicated to me. Another one of those moments at Harrison that stick in my heart.

Here I am reading one of the books as Dr. Lathan reads the other book.

This picture is of librarian (and mastermind of the books), ANGELA KNIGHT, with principal SHAWN DEWITT and superintendent Lathan. I’m holding a cuddly version of a huskie, the school mascot.

Harrison’s wonderful principal, Shawn DeWitt, invited me to be there on August 22 for the first day of school this fall. I’ll be sitting outside the front door to welcome each student to David Harrison Elementary School. All I can say is, WOW!

Last day of school

Hi everyone,

First thing on my agenda today is to pay a visit to David Harrison Elementary School. I’ll meet the librarian, DR. ANGELA KNIGHT, in the library at 8:10. Springfield’s superintendent of schools, GRENITA LATHAN, will be there for the last-day-of-class festivities.

I look forward to wishing the graduating class of 4th graders much success next year when they move to another school and hope to walk the halls for a while and step in and out of classrooms. What a wonderful way to start my day!

Night sounds at the library

Hi everyone,

The program at The Library Center went beautifully last night. We filled the auditorium and the audience, which included a lot of kids, seemed to enjoy the event. We were both entertained and informed by 5th grade students from the WOLF Program under the direction of teacher LAUREN BAER.

Working in pairs, the kids showed images of their chosen subject on the big screen, played sounds of that night singer, and gave the audience a series of interesting facts about their creature. They then challenged the audience to try making the same night song as their subject. At the end of their segment, all the WOLF students stood together on stage and answered questions from the audience. The entire audience broke out in night songs of their own. It was a sweet cacophony that came pretty close to how the real night-time choir sounds on a soft summer evening.

David Harrison Elementary music teacher, HAILEY ACKLIN, led a group of her students in performing “A Chorus for Four Frogs.” And following that, Hailey and her talented singers led the entire audience in reciting the poem together. It was all great fun.

Between the two main events I read a few poems from AFTER DARK and THE DIRT BOOK. The program lasted exactly one hour. Later I sat in the hall and signed books that were for sale. My sincere thanks to STEPHANIE SMALLWOOD, Youth Services Coordinator for The Springfield-Greene County Library District, for being a perfect host for the evening, always being there in the right place at the right time.

VOICES IN THE NIGHT is tomorrow night

Hi everyone,

Don’t forget that at 7:00 tomorrow night, April 19, is my special program at The Library Center (TLC) on South Campbell in Springfield. Here are the description and details. Please make plans to come if you can and remember that this is a kids-friendly program so the more young people we have, the better.

On warm spring nights, if we step outside we may hear a symphony of sounds — whistles, whirs, clicks and cries. What makes these noises we hear in the night? Bestselling author David Harrison, our friends from the Springfield Conservation Nature Center and some talented students from Harrison Elementary and Springfield Public Schools WOLF program will explore these sounds and the creatures that make them. Kids will learn facts about local nocturnal animals, enjoy stories and poems and even get to make some night sounds themselves! Books will be available for purchase and signing.

Naturalist JORDI RAOS will be there from the Springfield Conservation Nature Center with live specimens of fogs, toads, and peepers. She’ll also bring a stuffed own and make owl sounds for the audience to learn and mimic.

Teacher LAUREN BAER will bring a group of her 5th grade students from SPS WOLF Program who will present pictures, recorded sounds, and fun information about four of the voices in the summer nights chorus.

HAILEY ACKLIN, music teacher at David Harrison Elementary School will be there with several of her students to perform a poem made up entirely of frog sounds, called “Chorus of Four Frogs.”

I’ll host the program, read a few poems from AFTER DARK, and sign books afterward.

A fine week coming

Hi everyone,

Nice week coming up. Monday night is SPS Appreciation Banquet. When NANCY GRAFF and I started the event thirty years ago, we called it Teacher Appreciation Banquet. At the time morale was suffering among teachers and our reasoning was that by holding an annual banquet in their honor, and inviting businesses to send representatives, we would introduce teachers to their public and shine some much needed light on them during a night of honors and recognition.

These days the banquet honors all Springfield Public Schools employees — which is fine, and they certainly deserve it — but in my heart the night will remain true to its original concept. So on Monday evening I will attend “my” annual Teacher Appreciation Banquet, wearing the same tie I received as a gift on the second year of the event and have worn every year since This year, as I have a few times in the past, I’ve placed myself as an auction item for a school visit. I set my price lower than I charge in hopes that some generous parent or group will buy me for their school.

On Wednesday evening I’ll be at The Library Center with kids and teachers from Springfield’s WOLF program and from David Harrison Elementary School. (The picture is from a program in 2019. Those are Harrison kids performing the same poem that will be featured this year, “Chorus for Four Frogs.”) A naturalist will bring some animals from Springfield Conservation Nature Center. Together we’ll put on a program called VOICES IN THE NIGHT. It’s free to the public and I hope we’ll fill the auditorium. Make plans to come and bring some kids if you can. There will be plenty of audience participation as kids give us their best impressions of some of the voices in the night.