Traveling ventriloquist, storyteller appear at Walthill Public Schools

WALTHILL, Neb. - Two very different storytellers will entertain students at the Walthill Public School District during the next few weeks.

Ventriloquist Vern Wirka will work with students at Walthill Elementary on Monday, Jan. 30, and Freemont author and storyteller Jym Kruse will share folk tales Wednesday, Feb. 7.

Wirka will perform in "Appearing" in the school's gymnasium from 8:30 a.m. to 9:15 a.m. His show combines energetic, fast-paced patter with lots of audience involvement and a positive message focusing on the importance of education and staying in school.

His act features two characters, Dewey Weston, a kind of unruly but lovable guy, and Monk-Eeh, a furry friend from the jungle who likes to sing duets, Wirka said.

Wirka began his ventriloquism career during his Cub Scout days when he graduated from the Maher School of Ventriloquism in Littleton, Colo. A member of the American Association of Ventriloquists and the International Association of Ventriloquists (ISA), he appeared on Las Vegas television while conducting a ventriloquism workshop during an ISA conference.

He maintains that his craft is not a mysterious gift.

"There is no secret to it," Wirka said. "Anyone can do it."

Wirka has 20 years in broadcasting and also spent several years teaching college. During his teaching days he performed nationally. He now performs from 230 to 240 times a year.

Wirka appears before a variety of audiences from schools to residential care facilities to corporate clients.

Kruse is scheduled at Walthill Elementary school from 9 to 11 a.m. in the gymnasium. A classroom teacher and professional storyteller on stage, Kruse has used traditional and personal stories for many years. He has told his stories from statewide festivals to public radio stations across the country. His audiences ranged from the elderly to preschool students.

He is a member of the National Storytelling Association and a speaker for the Nebraska Humanities Council. Kruse worked with the National Arbor Day Foundation to develop strategies for using storytelling as a tool for environmental education across the curriculum. His stories have been featured on "The Enchanted Forest" on Washington Public Radio as well as "The Story Tree," a program on public radio stations across the country.

A frequent speaker at schools, festivals, and community gatherings, his stories emerge from his experience as a husband, father and one-time child as well as the world of traditional folk tales.

The event will be open to the public, said Elementary Principal Robert Gednalske.

For further information, please contact: Jeva Singh-Anand, Media Relations Coordinator at (402) 846-5432, ext. 128.