This morning, I drove the 90 minutes up to Hubertus, Wisconsin, to speak with the students of St. Gabriel School. It’s a Catholic school, much like the one I attended as a kid. St. Gabriel, it turns out, is the patron saint of communications workers, so I did my best to channel that into a good talk with the 4th- through 8th-grade classes.
The kids were great, and the principal—Dr. Judy Mortell, who grew up next to my mother back in Menasha, Wisconsin, and has even helped babysit my kids—made me feel right at home, even presenting me with a St. Gabriel sweatshirt. We all filed into the school’s old church, and they set me up in front of the dais. One of the teachers, the tech-savvy Mark Constancio, set up a projector for my Powerpoint presentation—along with a screen in front of the altar—and away we went.
I spoke for 20 minutes or so, then took questions from the kids and the teachers for a bit longer than that. I can only hope my answers were as solid as the questions. Everyone seemed to have a good time. (At least, I didn’t notice anyone nodding off.) I hadn’t been in a church for anything but a funeral or a wedding in years, but no bolts of lightning struck me down as I approached the altar. I figured the years I’d put in as an altar boy had bought me a moment’s grace.
At the end of the talk, we handed out a free copy of Secret of the Spiritkeeper to everyone. A few weeks back, I contacted Wizards of the Coast to see about purchasing copies at my author’s discount. Once they found out why I wanted the books, though, Wizards donated the entire lot to the school—enough for each kid to have one. Now, that’s a great publisher with real class.
Afterward, once the students had left for their classes, Judy escorted me around to each of the classrooms, and I autographed every book for each kid—and a few of the teachers. The students couldn’t have been more gracious and fun. I had a ball, and I hope they did too.
If you know a school who might like to invite me out for a similar appearance, please have their principal contact me. I could do this sort of thing every day.