Orchard Park students interact with authors via Skype

jmarks@fortmilltimes.comMay 5, 2014 

— Children’s book author Trudy Ludwig makes a living telling stories on a page. She also makes an impact face-to-face.

Three Orchard Park Elementary School classrooms packed in front of a smartboard April 30 to Skype with the Oregon author of numerous books, many dealing with bullying. On May 1, author Howard Binkow, better known to readers as Howard B. Wigglebottom, spoke to the three younger grades at Orchard Park.

Amanda Budd spent her last day at the school Friday as a school counselor intern with Winthrop University. Months back one of her own teachers challenged her to come up with something unique for the students.

“I thought, what am I going to do for a project?” Budd said.

She came across some information on free Skype sessions for students on one author site. The other offered the same thing after hearing what an intern hoped to do. Budd ran a few practice sessions and surprised the students last week.

Students, having read many or all of the authors’ books, asked about ideas for stories and who gets to draw the illustrations. They learned Ludwig felt bullied as a young person and later realized she bullied others. And that seeing her daughter experience bullying led to her work.

“I found out there were a lot of people having the same problems,” she told students. “Not just girls, but girls and boys.”

The Skype session put a first-person voice to the author who until last week was just a name on the cover and title page.

“It’s not just my daughter’s story,” Ludwig told students. “It’s a story that can happen to anyone.”

She also could challenge students. An aspiring school counselor, Budd knows bullying is something she will have to deal with in coming years. Ludwig told students they have more power than adults in their schools to stop bullying, needing only to make that decision.

“You guys have the power to end bullying,” she said.

John Marks •  803-831-8166

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