Sunday, December 29, 2013

Christmas Oranges

Christmas Oranges by Linda Bethers and Ben Sowards  is a wonderful story about friendship and holding together despite difficult circumstances. 

Young Rose is punished severely for a tiny infraction, and is not allowed to have her one present of an orange on Christmas morning.  How her friends get around this, and ensure that she has a wonderful Christmas in spite of her punishment, is very heartwarming.

I enjoyed this story and recommend it highly as a story to be read at Christmas time, or at any time during the year.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Elton John and Tim Rice's Aida, performed by Duchesne High School

Elton John and Tim Rice's Aida, performed by Duchesne High School was fantastic!  Allyson McKee, Michelle Evans and Hyrum Peatross were fantastic in their parts of Aida/Amneris and Radames.  I am so glad I watched it.  Mitchell Lewis also did great in his part playing Mereb, as did Jennifer Ponath in her part of Sabot.  There were parts where I laughed, and parts where I cried.  The ending was great and wonderfully satisfying after all the twists and turns.

I loved it!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Disney's Beauty and the Beast performed by Union High School

On Nov. 18th, I went with my kids to watch Union High School's performance of Beauty and the Beast at Roosevelt Junior High. 

It was very well done, and well worth the trip.  The cast and crew were amazing, and gave a great performance.  Ms. Killian did a wonderful job. 

The young lady who played Belle was amazing, as was the young man who played the beast.  They were both able to get me pulling for them, and hoping that everything would come out all right.  The young man who played Gaston was great.  He did an excellent job coming across as the selfish bad guy out to get what he wants, no matter who he has to hurt along the way.

Union High did a great job, and I was glad I went.  I really enjoyed the play!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Elton John and Tim Rice's Aida

Duchesne High School will be presenting Elton John and Tim Rice's Aida on November 22, 23, 25 and 26th at 7:00 p.m.

I haven't seen it yet, but I am really looking forward to it!

The play begins in the present, but quickly takes the audience back into the past where the protagonists, Radames and Aida, from Egypt and Nubia respectively meet, and learn to love each other despite the fact that they're from rival countries.

I look forward to watching the play.  Duchesne High School's Drama Department has put on some great plays in the past, and I am confident that this will be great!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Ms. Venita Kay Taveapont

On October 30, 2013, we lost a wonderful friend and teacher, Ms. Venita Taveapont.


She taught here at Uintah River High School for 13 years.  For the last few years, she has gotten more and more help from Ms. May Mountain as the Ute Language teacher.


Ms. Taveapont was born February 4, 1950 in Roosevelt, Utah.  She was a great lady, and dedicated her life to helping her students learn about their culture and language.


Ms. Taveapont knew that language is more than a mix of vocabulary words and grammar rules.  It is the core of a culture.  With its language intact, a culture’s heartbeat, stories, and memories go on.


Her funeral services were November 4, 2013 at the Fort Duchesne Gymnasium.  Many of the students of URHS attended.  They were respectful and quiet during the ceremony, and that was noticed and appreciated.


Thank you everyone who attended the funeral.  And for those who wanted to, but couldn’t, thanks for thinking of Ms. Taveapont.


Turgray-yahk, Ms. Taveapont.  Pooneekayvatsoomahdtah!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving

I have recently finished, (for the umpteenth time) the short story, "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" by Washington Irving.  It is an enjoyable, funny story of the school master, Ichabod Crane, and what happens when he tries to win the affections of a girl clearly out of his league, Katrina Van Tassle. When Ichabod Crane shows up, Katrina is already being courted by Abraham Van Brunt, or as his friends call him, Brom Bones.  Katrina is not only pretty, she's also rich, and Ichabod Crane likes her for both reasons.  But, in the end, his affection apparently isn't returned because after a huge party at her father's house, to which the whole neighborhood is invited, Crane tries to stay behind to have some one on one time with Katrina, but she apparently breaks up with him, because he leaves in a very "desolate and chapfallen" way.  On his way home, in the dark of night, all alone except for his borrowed horse Gunpowder, Ichabod meets an unwelcome fellow traveler.  What happens next, I'll leave up to you, to find out!

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Racing the Sun by Paul Pitts

Racing the Sun by Paul Pitts is about 12 year old Brandon Rogers, a young Navajo who has grown up in the Salt Lake area, and knows little about his heritage.  That all changes though, when his Navajo grandfather moves off the reservation and onto the lower bunk in Brandon's room.

At first, Brandon doesn't know what to make of this new change, but as he warms up to his grandpa, he starts learning things he didn't know before, and starts to realize that his Indian heritage is something he can be proud of.

I have read this book with my students, and have enjoyed it tremendously.  I highly recommend it for anyone looking for a good middle grade read, or a positive coming of age story.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

The Shores of Bountiful

I am so extremely excited to announce that my third book has finally been published.  It's been a long time coming.  The Shores of Bountiful is available to take a look at on Amazon, in both paperback and ebook formats.

The story follows events in The Book of Mormon, and spans the events of Helaman chapters 1 and 2.

"Elizabeth is devastated when Lamanites attack Zarahemla, and her betrothed is killed in battle.  Her friend Joshua, whom she has known since childhood is equally crushed; both by the anguish he shares with Elizabeth, as well as his own guilt that he could not save the man she loved.  But together, the two find comfort in their shared grief."

Here is a link to the page for The Shores of Bountiful on Amazon:

Friday, August 23, 2013

A new school year has begun, once again.  And I want to put a plug in for a great writer whose books are both uplifting and entertaining.  J. Scott Savage, the author of the FarWorld series, which I have mentioned before in this blog, created a fantastic world when he wrote the first FarWorld book, Water Keep.

I just started reading Water Keep with some of my students, and so far, they are enjoying it immensely.  They are very invested in the story, and we've only finished chapter 3.  As a teacher as well as a writer, it is important for me to find books that are challenging enough to push my readers, but not too challenging to be above their heads.  I also want them to be stories to which my students can relate, that they enjoy, and which teach them something positive about themselves and humanity at the same time.  The FarWorld series does all this.

The first book introduces Marcus and Kyja, the main characters,  both of whom are considered odd and disabled in their worlds.  (Marcus, a boy, lives on Earth, while Kyja, a girl, lives on FarWorld.)  Marcus requires a wheelchair to get around, while Kyja can't perform a single magic spell despite everyone else on FarWorld having the ability.  So often my students feel like Marcus and Kyja; like they can't do things that others can do, or lack advantages that others have, but as they watch Marcus and Kyja working together to overcome the problems, and not letting their 'disabilities' discourage them, they begin to think that they too can be successful despite any real or perceived disadvantages.  I really like that.   

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Review for Jack the Giant Slayer 2013

I really enjoyed watching the movie Jack the Giant Slayer, a fun twist on the traditional fairy tale, Jack and the Beanstalk.  It was directed by Bryan Singer, and produced by New Line Cinema, Warner Bros., Legendary Pictures, Original Film, Big Kid Pictures, and Bad Hat Harry Productions.

The movie stars Nicholas Hoult as Jack, Eleanor Tomlinson as Isabelle, Ewan McGregor as Elmont, and many other talented actors.

Jack is reluctantly thrust into an unexpected adventure when a monk entrusts him with a small bag of magic beans in order to keep them out of the hands of the king's evil advisor who wants to use them for his own selfish ends.  One of the last things the monk says to Jack, is "...don't get them wet."  But when one of the beans falls through the floorboards of his house, and gets wet just as the princess, Isabelle, running away from home, comes to his house seeking shelter in a rainstorm, the adventure begins. 

While the movie was rated PG-13, it was a very mild PG-13.  There were no inappropriate words, there was a positive moral (hard work and selfless courage pay off in the end) and though people do die, there was very little, if any, blood. 

One of my favorite lines of the movie was when Ewan McGregor's character is fighting with the bad guy, and says, "I may not be the hero of this story, but at least I get to see how it ends."

As I said, I really enjoyed this movie, and I would recommend it to anyone wanting to watch a fun, positive movie with plenty of action.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Far World Air Keep by J. Scott Savage

Far World Air Keep by J. Scott Savage continues the story of Kyja and Marcus, two friends from different worlds.  Kyja, from Far World, can't do magic, while everyone else, even the chickens, can.  Marcus, from Earth, can't walk, and needs a wheelchair to get around.  Alone, they can't do much, but together, they've got a chance.  In Air Keep, Marcus and Kyja have successfully gotten the Water Elementals and the Land Elementals to help them, and now must secure the help of the Air Elementals.  Will they be sucessful?  You'll just have to wait and find out. 

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Review: To Kill A Mockingbird

I wanted to submit a review of one of my favorite books in the world, To Kill A Mockingbird, by Harper Lee.  The movie, produced by Universal, was also well done, and I think gave a fairly good interpretation of Ms. Lee's story.  My students and I finished reading the book today, and they were both happy that they'd finished, and sad that it was over, at the same time.

The book, narrated by Jean Louise Finch, (nicknamed Scout) follows her life as well as that of Jem, her brother, and Dill, their friend.  It begins when they are all fairly young, when the greatest concerns they have are their worries about "Boo" Radley, a neighbor who hasn't left his house in years, and about whom they have many frightened and far fetched ideas.  But life does not stay as simple as they would like, and they are forced to grow up a little too quickly when their father, a lawyer, is called upon to defend a black man who has been accused of raping a white woman.

Both book and movie teach, without becoming overly didactic, the value of human life, and of honor and of compassion.  It teaches that while there is ignorance, dishonor, betrayal, and evil in the world, and tragedy too, that there is more good there, than bad. 

And that's something I think is important to know.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

DJ Weaver

My last few posts have been sad news, and this is no exception.  On Wednesday, March 6, 2013, a young boy named DJ Weaver whose family lives in our town, and who was in my son's class at school, was hit by a semi while crossing the street on his bike to get to the bus stop.  He later died at the hospital. 

In a way, this hit me harder than the shooting on the 14th of December in Connecticut.  I didn't know DJ personally, but my youngest two children did.  I pray for his family to have peace, and God's comfort with them.

"Oh God of heav'n, send Christ again
Bring in his reign of peace
And make Earth pure for tiny hands
And safe for tiny feet.

Then give back my child to me."*

*Cope, Kenneth. "Tiny Hands." My Servant Joseph. 1993. Embryo Records.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary

I didn't post this sooner, because my feelings were too raw and roiling to feel like coming to my blog.  But I feel able to come now, and paste an article I wrote for my school's newspaper.  Usually, the students write the articles, but this time, I decided to write the article myself.

From Warrior's Voices, the newspaper of Uintah River High School, December 19, 2012:

On December 14, 2012, twenty innocent little children between the ages of 5 and 10, as well as their principal and the school psychologist and several teachers were brutally murdered at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut.  Another woman was murdered by the same perpetrator some miles away.  In all, 27 innocent people lost their lives.


When things like this happen, the initial emotions that humane people feel are shock, denial, disbelief, and grief.  Especially when innocent children are victims. 


It is impossible to comprehend the grief that the parents, siblings, family and friends of these little children and their teachers are feeling at this time.  The only way to understand it, is to endure something similar, and I hope no one should ever again have to do so.


It is possible, though, to feel compassion for them, to hope that they find some way to endure, and, if you believe that prayer has any power, to pray for them as well.  Pray hard.


Additionally, it is possible to make a commitment to yourself, in your heart, never to use violence or any hurtful behaviors, even just abusive words, to deal with your own life’s troubles. 


I want you to look at the faces of the people in the pictures on this page.  Those people are not actors.  Their fear, their grief is very raw and real.  That is exactly how the people who care about you would feel if what happened to those little children, happened to you. 



In a video game, when you shoot someone or something, it’s not a big deal, because the character isn’t alive.  It’s just a part of the game’s program.  But in real life, when someone dies, that person, who was a living, thinking, feeling individual, just like you, is gone.  Forever.  

In the picture to the left, you can see the relief in the mom who is hugging her little girl; you can see it in the way she’s holding her little girl so tightly, the tension in her hands, and in the little girl’s face at having her mom there after having such a terrifying thing happen to her.  Tragically, not every parent, or child was as fortunate.


As President Barack Obama tearfully said in one of the most outwardly emotional speeches of his presidency, "The majority of those who died were children - beautiful, little kids between the ages of 5 and 10 years old."  Later in the speech he emphasized, “These neighborhoods are our neighborhoods, and these children are our children.”


During his speech, he had to pause several times to maintain control of his emotions, and wiped repeatedly at tears.


Two White House Aides who were with him, were reportedly in tears as well, as he gave his speech.


All human beings have worth, whether you know them personally, or not.  Whether you agree with their ways of doing things or not.  All human beings have something positive that they can contribute to this world.   


Be as kind to everyone as you can, stay as safe as you can, and remember your own value as a human being, and the value of others.