Bruce Hopkins visits Long Beach School

Robin writes: Attached is the newspaper article in yesterday’s Long Beach Press Telegram about Bruce Hopkin’s visit and wonderful day at Grant Elementary School in Long Beach, and a few photos. Note the handsigning one, Bruce signed arms and hands of one whole class consisting of 20 students who said they will never wash their arms again! The students loved him and cheered and applauded throughout his talk, especially during his famous juggling routine. Many, many thanks to Bruce for taking the time to do this.

‘Rings’ star visits L.B.

Wednesday, September 08, 2004 – Bruce Hopkins, the man who played King Theoden’s trusted adviser Gamling in the final two “Lord of the Rings” movies, was greeted with applause Wednesday when he visited about 200 students at Grant Elementary School.

But Hopkins channeled that praise to Joseph Amado, 9, a Grant fourth-grader who enthusiastically read the J.R.R. Tolkien trilogy twice when the movies came out.

Amado, who was a bit embarrassed by the attention, said reading is something he happens to enjoy.

“It’s educational. You can learn about a lot about things. And it’s really fun, too,” the student said. “But it’s not every day you see a famous person.”

For Hopkins, however, reading is something to be celebrated.

“To read the ‘Lord of the Rings’ twice, at his age, is phenomenal,” Hopkins said.

Hopkins, as a favor to Robin Harmon, school volunteer and trilogy fan, stopped by Grant to show movie clips, answer the students’ movie questions, give away posters and trading cards and promote literacy.

Vicina Jordan, a third-grade teacher at Grant, said Hopkins’ visit helped encourage her 20 students to pick up a book.

“It gets them excited about the literature and reading,” she said. “They can visualize the story when they’re reading it.”

Hopkins has been involved in Operation Read, a literacy program spearheaded in 1999 by Los County Supervisor Don Knabe and developed by a task force of county departments that included library, probation and juvenile courts.

The county teamed up with actors from “Lord of the Rings,” including Hopkins, and used the movies as an incentive to read the books.

Children read the books and wrote essays about the texts’ underlying themes. As a reward, students got to view a world-premiere screening of the movies at Norwalk Cinemas when they came out. About 1,000 students participated in the program.

By the time the third movie, “Lord of the Rings: Return of the King,” came out, more than 12,000 students over a three-day period went to watch the film in Norwalk.