Show teaches Orin Smith Elementary students about having a growth mindset through storytelling and yo-yo tricks


Getting to school can be challenging for a lot of kids, but it’s safe to say no Orin Smith Elementary School students had as eventful a journey to get to the Chehalis school Friday morning than The NED Show’s titular NED. He had to climb Mount Everest, zipline to a pirate island and fix a broken alien spaceship ahead of a 9 a.m. assembly in the school’s gym. 

Given that NED is a cardboard cutout of a cartoon kid, it’s unlikely his adventure actually happened. But the fictional nature of the story, reenacted by yo-yoer, magician and performer Paul — who declined to provide his last name — in the Orin Smith Elementary School gym Friday morning, doesn’t take away from the lessons it teaches kids about having what educators call a “growth mindset.” 

“We believe students can accomplish amazing things — if they’re given positive motivation and specific directions that lead to success. The NED Show and its corresponding character building resources do exactly that by teaching kids three foundational stepping-stones: Never give up, Encourage others, Do your best,” The NED Show states on its website. Those three principles create the acronym that serves as the show’s name: NED. 

When asked what her favorite part of Friday’s show was, fifth-grader Amelia Hamilton said, “I liked how he did a lot of yo-yo tricks.” 

The Chehalis School District has hosted The NED Show for elementary students for years, starting back when the district’s primary elementary school was Olympic Elementary. 

“It was a tradition that was started by the previous principal, Mr. Ellington, and we were so happy to continue that tradition here at Orin Smith Elementary,” Orin Smith Principal Rachel Dorsey said Friday. 

This year’s visit by The NED Show marked the first time students have seen the show live since Olympic Elementary closed and and Orin Smith and James W. Lintott elementaries opened several years ago. Up until this year, students saw The NED Show via Zoom. 

“It’s so nice to be back in school,” said Paul, the performer with The NED Show who helmed Friday’s show at Orin Smith Elementary. 

Paul has been with The NED Show for about 12 years and works primarily as a trainer for other performers, he said. 

“It’s always nice for me to go off and do a tour because I’ve got to practice what I preach,” he said. “It’s been a really, really cool thing. I’m very proud to be a part of it.” 

The NED Show runs on a “pay it forward” model, meaning schools pay nothing to bring a show to their students. 

The NED Show makes its money by selling yo-yos, which the performer used to perform tricks during the show, to students in the week after the assembly. At Orin Smith, students will be able to purchase yo-yos, which cost between $10 and $16 each, at lunch and recess Monday through Friday next week and practice tricks in a designated “NED Zone” on the playground. 

“We use the yo-yo, but the yo-yo is really just our vehicle to help fund us giving schools free shows … No one’s getting rich off of this, but it’s enough to keep people employed and to get to see probably 2 million kids a year,” Paul said. 

For more information on The NED Show, visit