I’m just back from my six-week teaching stint in the Johns Hopkins University Center for Talented Youth summer program. I teach “Writing & Imagination” a course created for the program by my wife Laurie and me back in 1993 when our son Chuck was a CTY student.

How we got involved in the program makes for an amusing tale. Chuck was accepted into the program in 1992, so we drove down to Baltimore to see the campus and meet with the people running it. The Young Students (5th and 6th graders) would not be staying Johns Hopkins University, but at nearby Goucher College in Towson, Maryland. After our meeting in the CTY offices, we were taken over to Goucher for a tour.

At some point, Laurie said to Chuck, “Is this something you want to do?”

“I don’t think I want to be away from home for three weeks,” he replied.

“Well, what if one of us was here with you?”

“Then I’d do it.”

Okay, so you mix the following pieces together: CTY had no writing class for its Young Students program. Laurie is a college English professor with a PhD. I write comic books. We’ve both taught creative writing classes.

Needless to say, we came up with a course outline in which she would teach the first and third weeks and I would teach the middle one. We were told that CTY would list the course and if they got twelve students signed up, the course would run.

Not long after that, we got a call saying that they had a lot more than a dozen students signed up and could Laurie and I each teach a section. Since I could not take three weeks off from my job as Production Director at DC, we had to decline. So they hired other instructors to handle the additional classes.

The first year was a lot of fun for me and so, in 1994, I suggested to Laurie that I teach two weeks and she teach one. Since she considered it a busman’s holiday anyway, she was happy to make the change. We continued that split until 1998. Then I took over teaching the class alone, for two three-week sessions each summer. Also, since 1996, we’re at Washington College in lovely, bucolic Chestertown, Maryland.

Chuck continued to be a student in the program (moving up to the Older Students site at Hopkins) through 1997. In 1999 and last year he was a Teaching Assistant in the Math Sequence class, bringing him full circle, back to being at the same CTY site as one of his parents.

We still hear from some of the students we’ve had at CTY. The first couple of years’ worth are in college now. I guess it’s only a matter of time before one of them turns up working with me, maybe even as MY teaching assistant.

1. Rhyme-wise, what villain was born on Monday?
2. Even after performing his labors, who has been a hero for many comics publishers?
3. A “Prize” version of what classic character had his nose ABOVE his eyes?
4. DC had two long-running series with origins in King Arthur’s Court; name them.
5. “Alice in Wonderland” inspired Jervis Tetch to become what villain?
6. Got #5? Now name the pair of Bat-foes inspired by the same book.
7. One classic resulted in the first DC/Marvel collaboration; name it.
8. Okay, so a missive to the Earth-S Pinky from his partner might be called what?
9. Daughter of the king of Shamballah– was Mom reading “Gone With the Wind”?
10. Before they were “Lost in Space,” what was their comic book called?
11. Original brothers? Or just two guys living in Houses? Name ’em.
12. One novel by Bram Stoker gave what character literary immortality?
13. Kids today use Cliff’s Notes; what did old-timers use to avoid reading the books?

1. Men can read smaller print than women; women can hear better.
2. The name for Oz in the “Wizard of Oz” was thought up when the creator, L. Frank Baum, looked at his filing cabinet and saw A-N, and O-Z, hence “Oz.”
3. “I am.” is the shortest complete sentence in the English language.

CTY students are among the top 1% in the nation. They are exceptionally bright, intuitive, hard-working, and love new challenges. But sometimes you have to wonder. Here are some statements and questions from students past and present:

  • “Are all those people in the cemetery dead?”
  • “Ice melts when it gets warm.”
  • “If it doesn’t look dorky, it won’t stay on.” (Discussing a strap to keep eyeglasses on.)
  • “When it’s cold in the room, I need my lips moving to keep warm.” (Explaining why he would not stop talking in class.)
  • “What number comes before ‘J’? ‘K’?”
  • “Special cows make Swiss cheese; they use bubbly milk.”
  • “Does food come with meal plan?”
  • “Spiders are better than sonnets.”
  • “Can I get a new dictionary? This one has no words.”
  • “I’m not going to finish this. It’s too easy or hard.”
  • “Can we write about Martians from Venus?”
  • “Half of my circle is straight.”
  • “Are the fireworks outside?”
  • “I meant it the way it was meant.”
  • “Do I put detergent in the dryer too?” (The students learn the fine art of laundering their clothing.)
  • “We’ve already learned more than we need to know.”
  • “How old were you when you were 16?”
  • “Infinity has no end, right? So when you get to the end you just add 1.”
  • “I swallowed pool water; am I gonna die?”
  • “Will my shirt dry inside out?”

Of course, the instructional and administrative staffs are not without their own gaffes, most of which came in memo form:

  • “If your e-mail does not work, please send me an e-mail about it and I’ll take care of it.”
  • “We have new requisition forms. Please use the old requisition forms to requisition them.”
  • “Bob is showing us how to do a gender check.”
  • “Everybody sit a large circle and then the people in the four corners stand up.”
  • “We’ll send someone over with a big black marker to white it out.”
  • “When the fields are being mowed, please keep the students away from the large machines with blades.”
  • “Make sure the kids aren’t eating the copier paper.”
  • “The computer lab will be open for staff members 24/7. Except when it is closed.”
  • “If the kids are turning pink or red, it’s time to do something.”
  • “You WILL be sued for being an idiot.”

As you might have guessed, now that I’m home, there is a big pile of email questions waiting to be answered, beginning next week. You can have yours answered. Use the handy box in the column on the left.

This week’s theme takes us back to high school English class. How many of the old classics which inspired the comics versions have you read?
1. Solomon Grundy
2. Hercules
3. Frankenstein
4. The Demon, Shining Knight
5. Mad Hatter
6. Tweedledee and Tweedledum
7. The Wizard of Oz
8. (Mr.) Scarlet Letter
9. Tara
10. Space Family Robinson
11. Cain and Abel
12. Dracula

After this quiz, should I send you to Amazon.com or BarnesandNoble.com? Maybe, if you want to check any of the books cited. But if it’s trivia you want, you’ll find more in the daily Anything Goes Trivia at http://www.wfcomics.com/trivia.

Copyright ? 2000 to 2003 by Bob Rozakis. All Rights Reserved.

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