Magician spins tricks into lessons

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 11, 2002

Garry Boothe can twist a balloon into a poodle and charm a metal disk right out of a little girl's hair.

He can turn two bright youngsters into buck-toothed hillbillies, too. Yesterday the traveling magician visited Whitwell Elementary. He performed these tricks, and a few others, and taught a timely lesson along the way. Boothe told the children that character counts.

"If you put the pillars of character underneath you, you will not fall," Boothe told the students. "And if you develop good character within you, you won't use drugs. Never lower your character by making bad choices."

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Boothe told the children that the pillars of character are respect, responsibility, trustworthiness, caring, citizenship and fairness. He used a series of magic tricks and stunts to illustrate his points.

He also told them that no one should ever allow themselves to be bullied by others, or accept an inferior position in life because of how other people treat or judge them.

"If there's one thing I want you to learn, it's that no one can make you feel inferior unless you let them," Boothe told the assembly. "No one can make you feel like a dummy unless you let them. Don't let them."

He used a candle made out of a couple of balloons to "pop" popcorn right before the children's eyes.

"What makes popcorn pop?" he asked them. "Heat and friction. That's what makes this popcorn into that fluffy stuff we love. Lives are like that, too. It takes heat and friction -- problems in your life -- to make you reach your potential. Every day in life we have problems. It's how we overcome our problems that determines how far you go in life."

His magic show received raves reviews from the children.

"He was funny," said Laken White, age 6.

She liked the trick where Boothe made a bouncing ball stick to an aqua cloth to illustrate the idea that he had a secret.

"I have a secret to living a drug-free life," Boothe said as his ball seemed to poke through the cloth. "It's character."

"Ashton McMackin, also 6,

liked the show, too. "I learned to be trustworthy," she said.

Tyler Kratzenberg said he liked "Cedric" the dummy who liked girls. "I learned to care about about other people." Kratzenberg said he also took away another important message from the magic show: stay away from drugs.

Boothe, a retired purchasing agent for the old Owens-Illinois plant in Huntington, W.Va., now travels schools throughout the region, using his own brand of magic and common sense to teach children what he calls the Three R's: rights, rules, and responsibility.

His work is sponsored by the Tri-State Building and Trades Council.

"We love him," Whitwell Principal Annette Massie said. " He always brings such a positive message for the kids and you can tell he touches a lot of lives."