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Sequim-raised author comes home

He has an internationally syndicated nutrition column that’s read from Bangladesh to Mexico, has written and illustrated countless books and has appeared on children’s television shows, but when speaking to students at Helen Haller Elementary last week, Smith became emotional.

“This is my home school,” Smith told the fifth-graders. “I still have family here. Being here this week is one of my favorite memories.”

Smith was born and raised in the city and attended Helen Haller Elementary, which at the time was Sequim Elementary School.

“My teacher was actually Mrs. Haller,” Smith told the astonished students.

It was on the peninsula that Smith said he felt the first spark of love for writing and illustrating.

“I used to watch “The Mickey Mouse Club” on our black-and-white television in first grade,” Smith said. “I used to love to watch Walt Disney’s brother Roy do his giant fast-action drawings of the Disney characters. That’s when I knew I wanted to do that.”

For that reason, Smith said he feels compelled to tour various schools and try to get the children excited about using their creativity.

The students, who already had met Smith in an assembly to kick off the Cougar-Wolf Writing Conference for both Helen Haller and Greywolf elementary schools, treated him as a celebrity, applauding enthusiastically when he entered the classroom.

“They love him,” said Haller fifth-grade teacher Rachel Oden. “They’re very excited.”

The week of Feb. 25 was filled with reading and especially writing for Sequim elementary students, including a visit from Seattle’s Book-It Repertory Theatre and grade-appropriate writing activities.

Although he lives in Puyallup now, Smith stressed that a lot of his success is rooted on the Olympic Peninsula. As a child, Smith said he pored over the column “Health Capsules,” written by a doctor, which appeared in the Port Angeles Evening News.

When the original cartoonist retired at the age of 92, United Features Syndicate asked Smith to take over as the writer and illustrator.

“I would never have imagined that would happen when I was reading the column here in Sequim as a child,” Smith said.

Most of all, Smith said, he hopes to inspire even one of the thousands of children he speaks to, just as he was inspired as a student.

‚ÄúI want you to go over the same bridge I went over and hold on ‚Ķ because when that creativity goes, most people don‚Äôt get it back,‚Äù he told the captivated students.

As the children left, excitedly chattering about Smith, he added, “I hope they keep the excitement, I hope it lasts. If I get through to even one student in 1,000, then I’ll be happy.”

For more information on Sequim’s own Bron Smith, visit www.bronsmith.com.



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