Johnny Appleseed, a.k.a. Morgan County Superintendent Bill Hopkins Jr., talks with students at Danville-Neel Elementary School on Wednesday. | Clif Knight
Johnny Appleseed, a.k.a. Morgan County Superintendent Bill Hopkins Jr., talks with students at Danville-Neel Elementary School on Wednesday. | Clif Knight

Archived Story

Look-alike Johnny Appleseed visits fourth graders at DNES

Published 12:18pm Thursday, October 3, 2013

Danville-Neel Elementary School fourth graders got a kick out of receiving a visit from Morgan County Schools Superintendent Bill Hopkins Jr. on Tuesday morning.

Hopkins arrived as a look-alike Johnny Appleseed, dressed in overalls, a plaid flannel shirt, bare-footed and wearing a cooking pot on his head.

After being introduced by Principal Tara Murphy as a special visitor, “Appleseed” sat in an armchair facing his audience and answered questions that only fourth graders would ask for 45 minutes.

“Why are you wearing a pot on your head?” was one of the first questions asked.

“It’s because I have only two hands and it takes both to plant apple trees.” Appleseed answered. “I don’t have a hand to carry the pot when I’m working so I put it on my head. The reason I was a little late this morning is the pot was hot from cooking in it and I had to let it cool.”

“Why are you not wearing shoes?” another student wanted to know.

“Because it feels good to wiggle my toes in the dirt and I can climb trees faster bare footed,” Appleseed said.

“Why did you plant so many apple trees?” was another question.

“I love apples and I wanted to share them with everyone else,” he pointed out while waving a carton of apple juice. “I wanted to do something to help our country expand and grow. Apple trees added value to the land and made it attractive for families to move west and homestead on the new frontier.”

“If you died in 1845, how can you be here today,” asked another student.

“You can look at me as an apparition or a ghost if you like,” Appleseed replied. “I’m here because I wanted to thank you for the letters you wrote to me on my birthday (Sept. 26). You asked some good questions and I wanted to come and answer some of them in person.”

Hopkins said he jumped at the idea of spending some time with the students acting out a role as Johnny Appleseed. “I’d forgotten a lot of the history behind Johnny and had to go online to refresh my memory.”

“This is what education is all about,” he pointed out. “It’s why I became superintendent. Spending time with the kids makes my job a lot of fun, and from their perspective, learning is not hard when you’re having fun.”

“Mr. Hopkins’ visit meant so much to the students,” said Paula Burch, fourth grade language arts teacher. ”It also lets us teachers know that he is always willing to take time from his busy schedule to take part in a teaching experience.”

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