The SpeakStory storytelling series continued Tuesday with Janice Del Negro's folk and fairy-tale stories in Reynolds Hall. The next SpeakStory event will feature Adam Booth October 30.

SpeakStory Series enlivens fairy tales

(The Picket)- The way to tell a story depends on who tells it, said Tuesday’s guest storyteller in Reynolds Hall. That guest SpeakStory Series storyteller was Janice Del Negro, an associate professor at Dominican University in Illinois.

Though Del Negro was out of town, the SpeakStory Series team set up a live-streamed connection that ensured Del Negro her evening in the spotlight.

“Things that happen by accidents…don’t seem like accidents,” Del Negro said during the event. Surely Del Negro filling in for another out-of-towner Jan Blake was no accident.

One of the stories that Del Negro brought to life was a Hispanic fairy tale. This story was about a man named Diego who journeyed on a quest to find his soulmate. His aunt instructed him to bring her some golden oranges from a distant place in order to find “the one.” Along the way, he frequently receives directions on how to get to the orange tree. Diego eventually obtains some oranges to bring back; to his surprise, his soulmate appears out of one of the oranges. This story ends with Diego’s wedding that lasted seven days.

Another story Del Negro told was a folk tale about a girl named Mary who finds herself wandering in a mysterious garden. Mary ends up making a friend in the garden: a leaf-green face. The leaf-green face befriends Mary and urges her to play hide-and-go-seek. One night, Mary ran into the garden to escape a bully named Debbie from her school.

As Mary’s voice echoes the anthem of hide-and-go-seek, Debbie misunderstands that she entered a game. The round of hide-and-go-seek and the story itself end with Debbie…and Debbie.

Larry Dowdy, a faculty member in Shepherd University’s audio-visual department, said that a person can take away a lesson about Appalachia by attending a SpeakStory event. “These people are talented storytellers who know how to both educate and entertain,” he said regarding the SpeakStory storytellers.

Dr. Sylvia Shurbutt, coordinator of Appalachian studies, said that having SpeakStory Series events is a benefit that Shepherd should not take for granted. “The heart of who we are is in the stories we tell,” she said.

Adam Booth, the founder of the SpeakStory Series, advertised storytelling CDs for sale at Monday’s event. Booth also reminded those in attendance of more opportunities to attend SpeakStory Series events, including “Spooky Stories” with Adam Booth to be held Monday, Oct. 30, at the Shepherdstown Community Club building. The spooky-stories event is free, but suggested donations are appreciated.

More information for SpeakStory Series events can be found by going to




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