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High School Highlights

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Steve Robinson

Author Roland Smith Visits With Junior High Students

Author Roland Smith visited Kingsley Junior High School and Parkside Junior High School on Tuesday and Wednesday, Nov. 15 and 16, respectfully, and gave presentations to 6th through 8th graders, discussing writing, doing research for his books, trying to give youngsters an insight into how a professional writer works. He also encouraged the students to use their school libraries to help them with their research.
That means constant rewriting, the author of some 26 adventure novels told the students. In addition to the presentations he gave to the classes, he had a pizza lunch with a select group of students who have read the majority of his books, and spent time with a select group of students who are very interested in pursuing writing as a potential future career, and with a group of special education students. It was a full day for Smith, who will turn 65 at the end of the month.
During the assembly speeches he gave to each of the grades, Smith told students his research for his books take him twice as long as the actual writing. He also told them he considers himself “a visual writer.”
“That means when you read one of my books, you say, ‘it played out like a movie in my head,’” Smith told 8th graders at one of the assemblies I sat in on in the school gym.
Smith suggested to the kids they ought to use photographs to inspire them to get their creative juices flowing when they consider creating a story.
Smith told the kids he does storyboards as though the book he is going to write were going to be made into a movie. He said the next step is to arrange the cards he uses to outline the plot of the story in the correct order before putting them onto the storyboard. He said he does that so that the action in the book flows in the order he wants. Then, he said, he can start writing. He writes several rough drafts.
“If there is one thing I want you to learn, it’s that writing is revision,” Smith told the students, making them all repeat those last three words after he said to them in every assembly. He said he writes about 80,000 words for his books and, with revisions, chops that figure down to about 60,000 words.
He told the kids to “get over” the fact that teachers edit their work because it’s all part of the writing process (don’t remind me!). He said he listens when editors make suggestions for changes that could be made to his manuscripts.
“Ninety-eight percent of the time, I don’t have to make changes,” Smith told each group. “But you know what? Editors have a lot of good ideas and they make me look a lot smarter.” (The ol’ editor, Mr. Pyne, has just read that quote and now is trying to contain a smile, I assure you.).
Smith grew up in Portland, Ore. and still lives there. He grew up in an era of Jules Verne books and graduated to reading Ian Fleming “James Bond 007” novels, he told students, giving them a little bit of his background that has gotten him where he is today. He said at age 5, his parents gave him a black oily typewriter for Christmas. He said, at that time, he cried when he got it because he was expecting another kind of gift, and he didn’t know how to read or spell.
But once he learned to read and write, he loved that typewriter, he said. My maternal grandparents had on oily black Royal brand portable manual typewriter I played with as a kid. I loved it. I can relate to some degree.
An 8th grade student asked Smith how much he gets paid for his work (I’ve always wondered about the pay such authors get, myself). He said he get paid based on how many books sell within a six-month period, and is paid 10 percent of what a hardback sells for and 35 cents per paperback copy sold.
Smith is the second author invited by the junior highs. The first was Neal Schusterman, another popular writer of fiction for young people. He visited all four junior highs two years ago. Courtney Knowles, IMC Specialist at both KJHS and PJHS, explained the committee that planned Smith’s visit “thought he would be perfect for middle school students and we have not been disappointed.
“We wanted someone who wrote a large quantity of books, and who wrote different genres so that his visit would appeal to as many kids as possible,” Knowles said. From what I saw throughout that day, Smith did just that.
To Smith’s point about revision, Knowles said the teachers who invited Smith wanted kids to pick up on his message of practicing their writing, just as musicians and athletes in junior high school and high school must constantly practice their crafts.
In case you’re wondering, you could say I do a little practicing myself, especially when it comes to writing a column. I have done this for almost seven years and it took me the first year to finally decide to write out each column longhand before putting it into the computer. That way, basically, all I’m doing by the time I’m at the computer is typing. But it took the first year of this column for me to realize that was the right step for me.
These kids were told revision is necessary. The one word he didn’t use is that, occasionally, it can be painful (That’s where “Writer’s Block” occasionally makes itself known). But if you have an idea you want to express, you must write. And if you are willing to write, Smith inferred, you must be willing to rewrite.
I will give this column the once-over (make that twice-over) and hope I don’t need too many rewrites before deadline.

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UCA’s Fourth Quarter Comeback Eliminates ISU in Playoffs
Despite Illinois State (6-6, 4-4 MVFC) tallying 17 first-half points and limiting Central Arkansas (10-2, 8-1 SLC) to just seven points, the Bears scored 24 fourth-quarter points to come back and defeat the Redbirds 31-24 at Estes Stadium in Conway, Ark. Saturday afternoon in the first round of the 2016 FCS Playoffs.
Anthony Warrum’s two touchdowns helped him become the only ISU receiver in school history to post 10 or more touchdowns in back-to-back seasons and the first player to record multiple seasons with 1,000 yards receiving. Anthony Fowler also had a good day, tallying a career-long 47-yard reception from Jake Kolbe in the second quarter.
The ISU defense dominated the first-half, limiting the Bears to just six rushing yards and not allowing a single first down in the first quarter. Davontae Harris tallied his second interception of the season in the first quarter, which helped set up a score for the ‘Birds. Brent Spack led the ‘Birds in tackles with nine, while Jason Harris was a big factor recording one sack and two tackles-for-losses.
After a scoreless third quarter, the Bears began their comeback as they blocked a momentum-changing punt at the start of the fourth quarter that was picked up by Jakari Dillard on ISU’s four-yard line, and he ran it in for the touchdown to bring the Bears within a field goal of the Redbirds, 17-14. The Bears followed that up with another score around the 10-minute mark to take the lead for the first time, 21-17. Following the score, the Bears shook things up opting for the onside kick that was recovered by UCA at ISU’s 36-yard line. Despite a big stop by the Redbird defense inside the red zone, UCA was still able to kick a 28-yard field goal to widen its lead to a touchdown, 24-17.
In a mere one minute 38 seconds, the ‘Birds fought back on a four-play, 81-yard scoring drive that was highlighted-by a 55-yard touchdown reception from Jake Kolbe to Warrum to tie the game at 24-24. With a minute and a half remaining, the Bears answered back, returning Reece Attard’s punt 39 yards to ISU’s four-yard line, before Antwon Wells ran the ball into the end zone for a touchdown to break the tie and climb ahead 31-24 for the Central Arkansas win.

Spelman, Harris Earn All-MVFC First-Team Honors
Senior center Mark Spelman and junior defensive back Davontae Harris highlighted a group of eight Illinois State football players who earned All-Missouri Valley Conference honors Monday, as the duo was named to the All-MVFC First Team in a vote of league head coaches, sports information directors and media.
Three Redbirds were also selected to the All-MVFC Second Team, as senior wide receiver Anthony Warrum was joined by junior safety Alec Kocour and junior defensive tackle Dalton Keene. Senior linebacker Alejandro Rivera, senior offensive tackle Cameron Lee and junior placekicker Sean Slattery were also named All-MVFC Honorable Mention selections in the annual vote.

Redbirds Top Ferris State 81-67 to Open Home Stand
Phil Fayne scored a career-high 22 points and Deontae Hawkins chipped in 21 points, as Illinois State never trailed in an 81-67 victory over NCAA Division II Ferris State Sunday, November 27 on Doug Collins Court at Redbird Arena.
Fayne shot 9-for-16 (56.3 percent) from the field and also collected six rebounds. Meanwhile, Hawkins shot 8-for-12 (66.7 percent) and was credited with six rebounds, four steals and one assist. Drew Cushingberry led Ferris State offensively with 20 points.
Illinois State finished the game 31-for-68 (45.6 percent) from the field, while the Bulldogs shot 23-for-54 (42.6 percent). The Redbirds outrebounded Ferris State, 39-35, and ISU forced 22 turnovers compared to 11 committed by ISU.

Women’s Basketball’s Annual Pack the Arena Game Sunday, Dec. 4, Against Wisconsin – Free Admission
Illinois State fans can enjoy FREE admission to the women’s basketball game this Sunday, Dec. 4, at 2 p.m. when the Redbirds host Wisconsin in their annual Pack the Arena game.
Josh Horton will be in attendance to perform his exciting juggling performance at halftime. Also, the first 150 Illinois State students in attendance will receive a free holiday-themed tank top. And if you need to buy Redbird merchandise, Alamo II will be on site to do just that.

Women’s Basketball Falls at Northern Illinois
The Illinois State women’s basketball team was defeated by Northern Illinois, 108-66, Saturday, Nov. 26 at the NIU Convocation Center.
The Redbirds (2-3) entered the contest with only eight healthy bodies and were down three starters. The Huskies (4-1) could not miss at all from the field, shooting 51.8 percent (43-of-83), including 13-of-25 from three-point range. NIU was around 60 percent for most of the contest, before shooting only 7-of-24 over the final 10 minutes, in a quarter Illinois State outscored the Huskies, 18-17.
Illinois State finished the contest shooting 35.7 percent (25-of-70), including 8-of-23 from behind the arc. The Redbirds also took care of the basketball, turning it over only a season-low 10 times.
Ally Lehman recorded a triple-double for the Huskies, as she tallied 19 points, a game-high 10 rebounds and game-best 11 assists. Courtney Woods led all scorers with 23 points to go along with six rebounds, while Janae Poisson added 19 points, as she knocked down all five of her three-point attempts. Cassidy Glenn chipped in 16 points, eight rebounds and four assists, and Mikayla Voigt finished with 12 points.


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