HAMS students get chance to meet author
Huntingdon Area Middle School students in Jeremy Uhrich’s seventh grade reading class, from the left, Eric Itinger, Lyndzi Fisher and Eli Morder, discuss the book “Hidden Talents” by David Lubar, who they had an opportunity to meet through a Skype session Tuesday. Photo by KYLIE HAWN.
By KYLIE HAWN-Daily News Staff Writer
It’s not every day a student is assigned to read a novel and then gets the opportunity to meet the author, but seventh-grade students at Huntingdon Area Middle School got to do just that.
Students in Jeremy Uhrich’s reading class were assigned “Hidden Talents,” by David Lubar, and students got an opportunity to meet the author in a Skype session Tuesday, get his background and ask him deeper questions about the book.
“Hidden Talents,” is a young adult mystery novel about protagonist Martin, who has been sent to Edgewater Alternative School with “freaks, misfits and psychotic bullies,” and finds out each person in this school possesses a special talent.
Uhrich talked about how he got Lubar to participate in the Skype session.
“I did some research on the novel and discovered through his website that he did Skype sessions,” said Uhrich. “I was able to get the money to pay for this through the Huntingdon Area School District Education Foundation.
“I thought it would be a neat opportunity,” he added. “I did it when I taught in Harrisburg, and I wanted to give students an opportunity to meet the author, talk about the themes of the book and ask him personal questions.”
Lubar was a video game programmer before he began writing full time in 1994, publishing six books the next year.
He asked a student if he is thinking about college, and when the student said he wasn’t sure, Lubar said that was OK.
“You’re only in seventh grade, now is not the time for that,” said Lubar “Now is the time to relax, learn and socialize. That’s what middle school is about.”
Lubar became interested in writing, specifically writing and telling jokes, when he realized how cool it would be to make money for writing jokes, since he loved “The Dick Van Dyke Show.”
Books he read also gave him ideas for stories.
“In college, I read some great novels,” said Lubar. “The power of fiction enabled me to move them emotionally.”
Though Lubar never attended an alternative school himself, he cautioned students to be “very careful not to mess with the truth when writing.”
One thing he would change about the book would be to add more female characters in the book.
“Looking back on it, I simply messed up with these points. I realize I did not have a main female character,” he said.
The inspiration for the title, “Hidden Talents,” came from watching the Nickelodeon show, “Super Sloppy Double Dare,” with his daughter. The show’s host, Mark Summers, would ask the contestants, namely preteen and teenagers about their hidden talent.
“That sort of stuck with me and I ran with that as a title for the story,” said Lubar.
HAMS seventh graders who participated were excited for the opportunity to meet the author and ask him questions.
“I’ve never done a Skype session,” said Abbi Henney, a student in the class.
“It was really neat, and this was a new thing for me, since I’m new to this school,” added Michelle Cates, another seventh grade student.
Henney and Cates both described the author as reserved, but they enjoyed getting extra insight into a book they were assigned to read.
“We got more detail than just by reading,” said Cates. “He asked us questions about what we thought of the book.”
“I liked how he explained how he named certain characters and how he came up with ideas,” said Henney.
Uhrich concluded he thought students enjoyed the speech, as Lubar was able to keep up the energy during the session.
“He was funny and kept their attention,” he said.
Kylie can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.