Sunday, December 30, 2007

Melican Middle School (Plus Borders) Trip Report

After my visit to Algonquin High School, I spent two days visiting Melican Middle School in Northboro, MA. This involved another first for me -- signing not only books, but body parts too! Two palms, a half-dozen arms, and one forehead. No one ever asked me to sign a body part before. I felt like a rock star. Well, sorta...

I also felt unprepared -- I don't own an appropriate body-part-signing pen. My usual purple book-signing pen doesn't cut it. The ink doesn't stick. But permanent marker seems a bit... permanent. And with a signature, it's not like you can say, "It wasn't me." Does anyone have any su
ggestions? Is there a kind of pen that signs well on skin but won't annoy parents? Does the fact that I'm worrying about this make me a complete dork? Is this ever even going to be an issue again?

Just in case, perhaps I should do some testing. When I started signing books, I bought about a dozen different purple pens and tested them out on a book that I didn't like very much. My pen of choice: the Pilot G-2. I could do the same with body pens. Just pick a body part I don't like to test them on. Like my chin. I'm not a fan of my chin, though perhaps that's not the best choice for signature experimentation...

I'd visited this school before (minus any body-part signatures). In October, I spoke with the sixth grade. This time, I came to talk to the seventh and eighth grades. I did ten presentations over the course of two days, and I had lunch in the cafeteria with the students in between talks. It's really a wonderful school filled with great students and teachers.

It's also the school that the main character in INTO THE WILD attends! Chapter three starts right outside at the bus pick-up area. Righ
t here:

Julie's School

I think this is cool. During this visit, I talked with people who would be in Julie's classes, if she weren't, y'know, fictional and stuff.

I also discovered that the Curriculum Coordinator at Melican, Nancy Payne, taught GAIN (the Gifted and Talented program) at Lincoln Street Elementary School when I was a student there! I didn't make the connection during my last visit because when she was my teacher, I called her Mrs. Payne
and now I call her Nancy. Totally different. (Yeah, I totally wouldn't qualify for the gifted program any more.) We reminisced about the time when we all dressed up as figures from famous paintings, and there was a fire drill and one of the fifth grade boys waltzed out of the school as Whistler's Mother, complete with black dress and high heels.

Me and Nancy Payne

In between the two days at Melican, I did a book signing at the Borders in Shrewsbury. I love this Borders. Everyone who works there has been so nice to me. And they give me hot chocolate. I really like hot chocolate. [Brief digression: Once, during a trip to Spain, my husband and I tried to order hot chocolate. Our Spanish is limited to what you learn on Sesame Street, but after a few funny looks, the waiter brought us two cups of very thick hot chocolate. We drank it. The next morning at breakfast, we were served churros with chocolate (donut-like sticks that you dip in chocolate), and we realized that what we'd thought was hot chocolate was actually the chocolate dip for the churros. Yes, we drank the dip. Again, not so "gifted" any more.]

Anyway, this was my very last book event for 2007! If you'd like to see any of my trip reports from other events, I've put links for each event on the Appearances page of my website. Hope you all are having a wonderful last few days of 2007!

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At 12:42 PM, Blogger h. said...

I have two ideas for writing on skin. You can buy gel tattoo pens that write on skin, are non-toxic, and can be washed off. Or you can get a non-smearing eyeliner pen and use that. Klutz sells body crayons, which are essentially thick eyeliners in more primary colors.

I think you would have to experiment with them to see which works better. I am sure your husband would be happy to have you sign your name over and over again on him... right?

At 2:06 PM, Blogger Sarah Beth Durst said...

H: Those body crayons are hilarious. I like that the example for how to use them is that you can paint your hand like a rooster.

At 11:03 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Things have changed since you were in Northborough growing up. Sadly, children who are in need of curriculum beyond grade level are no longer identified until at least 8th grade now, if ever. Those kids' needs are not understood or respected as they once were. There is no gifted and talented support anymore.


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