Thursday, May 31, 2012

Sun Prairie, WI

Earlier this week, I was in Wisconsin to speak at Sun Prairie High School. It was a beautiful school, with very different scenery around it than I had at my high school.

This visit broke a record for me. Seven back-to-back presentations, with a short lunch in the middle. I spoke each period so all English classes could attend. A lot of schools think I'm joking when I say I'll speak as often as they want throughout the day. But my favorite part of being an author is speaking with students, so I love when a school says, "Alright. You asked for it!"

(I won't get too graphic, but after my seventh presentation, plus a book signing in the library, I got my first real break of the day and waddled as fast as I could to the nearest restroom!)

Half of my presentations were in their amazing theater.

Every time I see a photo like the one above, it makes me sweat a bit. I absolutely love what I do, but I can imagine what I would've thought five years ago, seeing this image right before my book came out. "There's no way I can speak in front of all those people! I have stage fright!!!"

You'll get over it, dude.

Their school had a choir concert that evening, so half of the day was spent speaking in their library so students could rehearse in the theater.

Having students sit on the floor brought me back to my Assistant Children's Librarian days. It felt like storytime! The library media specialist suggested that I bring puppets next time, which is actually a great idea. I can bring a boy and girl puppet, then read from Thirteen Reasons Why or The Future of Us, and no one will get confused as to which character is speaking.

I signed a lot of books after school. Sometimes I signed pieces of paper so they students could paste them into books they had at home or would purchase later. Or, in one case, I signed a copy of The Illiad.

On my way to dinner, I walked through downtown Madison, which has a cool funky vibe. Here's a pic of the capitol building. Wisconsin has a special recall election coming up next month. Obviously, the governor is doing everything he can to keep his job. He even set up a street light in front of the capitol reminding voters to Go Right. (Did he use taxpayer funds for that light? What a hypocrite!)

I had dinner at the Wisconsin Union, at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. What did I eat? A bratwurst sandwich with sauerkraut and mustard (but absolutely no ketchup), obviously! I was there with Ms. Coller (library media specialist), Mr. Rouse (assistant principal), and his wife. They told me no one is allowed to leave the Union on their first visit without sitting in one of the oversized Terrace chairs. So I made Ms. Coller and Mr. Rouse sit on it with me.

The next day, I took a 4 a.m. shuttle to the airport, hopped on three flights, and made it home before noon. No matter how much fun I have at school/library/bookstore/conference visits, it's always nice to get home.


Amy Zhang said...

Wow! I'm so indescribably jealous of the students at Sun Prairie! I actually have friends there (not close, obviously, or I would have skipped school to see your presentation). I'm glad you enjoyed your visit!

triles said...

As a Madison alum, I'm glad you enjoyed your time in Madison and the surrounding area. The Union is a great spot. You did the bratwurst, got your picture in a big terrace chair-nicely done! It's very cool that you spend so much time connecting with your readers.

Anonymous said...

Even years after graduating from this school, when I found out AFTERWARDS that you had spoken at Sun Prairie High School, I am still disappointed that I hadn't had the chance to hear you speak or meet you (Guess I don't get over things too well ;)). Thank you for writing an incredible book with such a powerful story that gets everyone's attention. I own this book and have read it probably close to five times already. There needs to be more awareness about suicide prevention and bullying, as well as other factors that may influence someone to take their own life. Keep doing what you do!