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Mentor Day

Author Kyle Pratt in his office with Houston 

I first met Houston two years ago when I spoke about writing as a career at Centralia High School. I read some of his work and noticed a definite writing talent. Then a few weeks ago my friend Julie Zander asked if I’d like to help her mentor a writer as part of the local Rotary/TRiO program. The program pairs students with adult professions for a job shadow and mentoring day. When I saw Houston’s name on the TRiO form I agreed to take part.

Houston and Author Kyle Pratt at the TRiO lunch.

Now a junior at Centralia High School, Houston writes very descriptive fantasy and, while Julie is an excellent non-fiction writer, she wanted my fiction perspective included in the mentoring. The three of us met at Centralia College. While there we discussed writing as a career and the training and education that advanced our careers. Houston also wanted to know how a typical work day looked. As part of that answer, we took him to my home office where I spend most of the day on a keyboard staring at a computer screen.

After that, we joined the 61 adults and about 80 students from area high schools for lunch at St John’s Lutheran Church in Chehalis. It pleased me to see so many adults willing to take time out of their day to mentor the youth of our community. I was also glad to see so many young people eager to learn more about careers.


 
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Concert Night

As an author much of my time is spent in my office writing.

So, when I can, I like to get out and interact with people. One of the ways I do that is by attending the concerts of the Pacific Northwest Chamber Orchestra.

The area I call home is Lewis county, Washington state, a largely rural area of farms and timber. The largest town is Centralia, 16,000 people, where the concerts are held. All the performers are local music lovers.  These talented individuals should be paid for the performances they provide to this community, but they aren’t. They pay to be members of the organization, and their concerts are free. Wow, what a fantastic way to give back to the community.

Last night, for their second performance of the season, the theme was show tunes. For almost two hours the PNCO played arrangements from Les Miserables, Pirates of the Caribbean, Star Wars, James Bond, Titanic and Fiddler on the Roof. They closed the night with the theme from the Pink Panther.

I look forward to their next performance in June.

An Evening with Charlie

For the first time in over ten years I had the chance to see, hear and speak with Charlie Albright.

Kyle Pratt and Charlie Albright

In 2004 Charlie Albright was a freshman in my civics class at Centralia High School. Even then I knew he would achieve things in life. He worked hard in class and turned in every regular and extra credit assignment. I don’t believe he got less than an “A” on anything.

While still in high school, Charlie earned an Associate of Science degree at Centralia College, but that was just the beginning. He was accepted into the joint program with Harvard and the New England Conservatory. At Harvard he earned a Bachelor’s in pre-med and economics. While at the New England Conservatory he earned a Masters of Music. Moving on to Juilliard he graduated with the prestigious Artist Diploma.

Today he performs around the nation and the world, but last night he was back home in Centralia at the Corbet Theatre of Centralia College. While I enjoy classical music, I’ve never studied it, and cannot judge Charlie’s performance except to say that for over two hours his hands flew across the keys in an incredible flurry of movement and created sounds which held me, and the others who were there, in rapt silence.

A quick way to see Charlie perform is to visit his YouTube channel

After the performance I was walking toward the door, when my wife encouraged me to stay, buy a CD and speak with Charlie. I didn’t expect him to remember me and there was a long line, but she persisted. It turned out Charlie did remember me, so with an autographed CD, a handshake and a picture we ended our evening with Charlie.