WEST ORANGE, NJ - On Thursday, April 24, St. Cloud Elementary School hosted beloved children’s author Dan Gutman as part of the St. Cloud PTA’s Cultural Arts Program.
Mr. Gutman read "Casey Back at Bat" to the Kindergarten classes. “The lines of rhyming prose, which he often let the children finish for him, elicited so much laughter and excitement from the kids, it was really a pleasure to watch,” said Janice Berman, a member of the PTA Executive Board.
The First and Second graders came together for “A Day in the Life of an Author,” a fun slideshow of photos from Mr. Gutman's typical day which included photos of his cat, his wife and his children.
Mr. Gutman then had lunch in the St. Cloud Library with the winners of an Essay Writing Competition which was open to Third, Fourth and Fifth graders. 63 essays were submitted and judged by Susan McCartney, West Orange Town Council President, Faith Boyle, Department Head of Youth Services at West Orange Public Library, and Cynthia Cumming, Managing Editor of the Alternative Press. Gutman and the children enjoyed some special time discussing his books before meeting with the fourth and fifth graders.
The winners of the competition were:
5th Grade: Jean-Luc Cataquet , Sophia Lewis, Kofi Opoku-Agyeman, Kostantina Pavlidis
4th Grade: Ayush Narain, Kyle Fried, Matteo Celleri
3rd Grade: Chelsea Louis, Kamsi Ozoigbo, Sofia Quraeshi
Gutman spent time with the older children discussing the process of rejection. He pulled out a binder with over 20 rejection letters he had received for “Honus and Me” before it was finally published. He outlined the writing process from the simple act of picking a setting to creating the hook that draws in the reader, and encouraged the students to never give up – no matter how many rejections they get – because their dreams can still come true.
“Mr. Gutman certainly knows his audience” said Madelyn McClammy, VP Cultural Arts for the St. Cloud PTA Executive Board, who was responsible for selecting and scheduling Mr. Gutman’s visit. “The different presentations to each age group were perfectly targeted and all the children were completely engaged throughout. It was truly a special day for all the students at St. Cloud and we thank Mr. Gutman for making it such a fun and informative experience for everyone.”
“Madelyn McClammy has done a phenomenal job of selecting and organizing enriching programs for St. Cloud this year” said Casandra Aminzia, PTA President. “It’s a delicate balance finding programs that are both educational and fun for the children and a good use of our fundraising dollars.”
St. Cloud Principal Eric Price said “On behalf of the students, facultyand staff, thank you Mrs. McClammy and the PTA for bringing such an amazing assembly to St. Cloud. Dan Gutman was fantastic. He shared with our students the magic and power of writing.”