Watermelon University visits RTV6

Posted at 5:49 PM, Apr 30, 2018
and last updated 2018-04-30 17:53:24-04

INDIANAPOLIS –  Chadwick Gillenwater worked as a school librarian in Seattle, Washington.  A slip up of his name from a student would soon become what he’s most known as.


"She said 'Mr. Watermelon! (gasp) I mean Gillenwater' and I was like is that what you guys are calling me out on the playground? And she said mmhmm,” said Gillenwater.


So, he coined the name Professor Watermelon and now teaches creative writing to children in a class called Watermelon University.  Each month they go to different places around Indianapolis for their class.  They take a tour and learn about the history of the place and then use the tour as inspiration to write and draw their stories.


"Children leave knowing that they're an imagineer,” Gillenwater said.  “They can create whatever world they want to.  They can take a muse, an inspiration a person, place or thing, and take it from ordinary to extraordinary."

During each class, the students write a word on a piece of paper that will soon be drawn later, these are known as the magic words.  When a certain word is drawn, each student has a chance to earn, Melon Money, if they have used the magic word in the story they have written.


“My favorite this is we’re allowed to write a lot, and we can express our feelings in the writings,” said Abigail Smith, 4th grader.


“I like how they let you write your own story, they let you have your own creative freedom on how you want your story to go,” said Jonah Kreber, 3rd grader.  “They give you a topic but they're not like squeezing it into something they're thinking of.”


At the end of the class, they can use the Melon Money during the auction to bid and win on prizes.


“My favorite things to bid on in the auction are notebooks, stuffed animals, and other things that can be used to make drawings and stories,” Jonah said.


In April 2018, they stopped by the RTV6 news station to have one of their classes.


“My favorite part was where I got to see the green screen,” said Lucas Frye, 2nd grader.


“I liked the green screen because if you wear green you’ll be invisible, like the green parts of your body and your clothes, it’ll be invisible, and you can’t see anything,” said Londyn Frye, 1st grader.


“I loved to see the control room,” said Sylvia Eddy, 4th grader.  “How there are all of these buttons and different things that you can do, it’s very complicated.”


"I find that so often that children think that writing is hard and it's really not.  If children can find that writing is like taking a bowl of crayons and creating a piece of art that words are color and that they aren't going to be judged for their first draft perhaps, and that their work can be celebrated, then that is my goal is that they find the joy in art and writing,” said Gillenwater.


The class is open to first to fifth grade Indianapolis students.  If you are interested in signing your student up click here at: Professor Watermelon.


On June 15th and 16th, there will be a graduation ceremony for the Watermelon University students at the Spring Mill Inn in Mitchell, Indiana.