Fish Creek: Storytellers in training (video)

Eighth-graders prepare for special Thursday night event

Apr. 17, 2013
Storytelling: Professional storyteller Dan Keding inspires students to write about their heroes.
Dan Keding, award-winning international storyteller, author and musician inspires eighth-grade students to write about local heroes they admire during his talk at Gibraltar Middle School on Monday. To view a video of Keding's visit, go to / Tina M. Gohr/Door County Advocate
International storyteller and musician Dan Keding explains how the music permeates from the banjo to a class of first-grade students, including Ken Minten, at Gibraltar Elementary School on Monday.

Dan Keding‘s visit is sponsored by Friends of Gibraltar, the Edgewood Orchard Galleries Cookbook Fund, Apple Creek Resorts Motels and Suites, Cooper’s Corner, Wild Tomato and the English Inn.

Dan Keding, award winning international storyteller, author and musician, talks to first-grade students at Gibraltar Elementary School on Monday. Keding will present an evening of storytelling with students on Thursday. To view a video of his visit, go to / Photos by Tina M. Gohr/Door County Advocate


Gibraltar eighth-grade students will have the opportunity to publicly talk about the heroes in their lives during a presentation Thursday night at the Door Community Auditorium.

The theme of the show and the students’ stories is “The Hero of My Life.” Dan Keding, a professional storyteller, author and musician from Urbana, Ill., spent the earlier part of the week helping the students craft their hero-themed stories ahead of the 6 p.m. performance.

In preparation for Keding’s visit and Thursday’s show, students in Lauren Mitterman’s social studies and Lynn Hermann’s English classes researched local heroes and identified characteristics that make someone a hero. The students gave speeches about their chosen heroes during English class.

Vinni Chomeau, Friends of Gibraltar coordinator, said the subject of heroes was partially inspired by the message of 13-year-old Bo Johnson, who died last September after a nearly yearlong battle with leukemia. During his final weeks Bo spoke to his classmates and the media about being kind to your neighbor and “paying it forward.”

Bo would have been an eighth-grade student at Gibraltar this year.

“Some of the inspiration behind choosing the eighth-grade class to work with Dan Keding (is) to have another opportunity to celebrate (Bo’s) message of paying-it-forward and what local heroes do in everyday life,” Chomeau said.

Students are still feeling his loss, she said.

Keding spent his first day at Gibraltar telling stories to students and having them come up with impromptu stories.

Several of the stories that Keding regaled students were about his dogs, including one named Traveler.

Traveler loved Frisbee discs so much he jumped through a second-story screen door to play with kids at a nearby park, Keding said.

The point he wanted to make with his dog stories was that people like “a good animal story.”

“Animals are very important to us,” Keding said.

He also told students to not focus on funny stories because humor is not universal.

At the end of Monday’s sessions, students were asked to start thinking about what story they wanted to tell. Keding planned to devote his Tuesday and Wednesday sessions to story structure and presentation.

Student Caleb House already had an idea of who he wanted to write about.

“My story is probably going to be about how my grandma and grandpa (Marie and Aubert House) met, it’s pretty amazing,” Caleb said.

The night they met, Marie House had planned to go to a movie with friends but changed her mind and went skating instead, he said. She met Aubert while skating.

During the performance students will be able to choose between telling their hero story, taking part in a Greek choir or acting as a master of ceremonies.

Keding will also perform in the second half of the show.

“Kids who don’t want to perform in that way, they can join me in the second half,” he said.

He is passionate about teaching children and young adults the art of story telling.

“I think that when you get down to it we are all story animals,” Keding said. “We think in story. We talk in story. When we listen we remember things better when they are stories. I think that it’s one of the reasons it’s important for them to do that.”

Contact Samantha Hernandez at or (920) 743-3321, Ext. 112.

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