Friday Flashback: Marching band and the drama of deadlines

During my sophomore, junior and senior years of high school, I had the opportunity to write a biweekly column entitled “Student Voices” for my hometown newspaper, the Rosemount Town Pages, an experience that deepened my awareness of my growing role in my community. There is no online record of this column, just a disorganized three-ring binder of newsprint clippings that I transport from apartment to apartment each time life takes me somewhere new. In the coming months, I will share a column each Friday as a way to preserve this period of my writing, and my self-discovery, on a digital platform.

The column below is almost painful for me to read. I have always loved to write, but as I read through some of my earliest “Student Voices” columns, I realize just how far my writing has come — all due to the guidance of one truly incredible educator. I had the fortune of learning from caring, dedicated teachers throughout my high school experience, but the two years I spent in Nancy Storm’s classroom forever changed me, instilling in me a love of critical discussion and helping me to refine my voice in so many ways. To put it simply, Ms. Storm changed the way I think. She’s the type of teacher every student deserves to have, because the impact she makes is so profound.


“Marching band and the drama of deadlines”

Date of Publication: October 15, 2004

Every other week, I sit down at my computer and wait for something brilliant to pop into my head. Something that will be enjoyable for the readers to read but still be quality writing. I work better under pressure, so I always end up procrastinating until the last minute to write my column.

From the moment my column is published, my mom begins nagging me about possible topics and urging me to schedule time for prewriting, writing several drafts, revising and editing (she is a teacher, after all). If I dare to admit that I have not yet thought of a topic, I will be lectured about the revision process and the importance of producing a high-quality final product.

Throughout my day, both at school and at home, I encounter an assortment of topics that strike me as interesting and worthwhile. Writing a column about one of these topics, however, proves to be more of a challenge. Does my column sound too informative? I ask myself. Is this of any interest to the readers? I can only hope that what my family and friends find appealing is as interesting to the general public.

Everyone must encounter obstacles, little challenges that may seem bothersome but often mold us into the people were are. For example, the simple challenge of finding clothes to wear to school could turn into a lesson about self-image. Not having my column written the night before it’s due teaches me not only about the consequences of procrastination, but also that I can write about anything if I find it necessary.

When I sat down at my computer to begin writing this column, my idea was the marching band. Since I was a child, it has bothered me that the media focuses so much the coverage of sports, but usually one page of the newspaper or one three-minute segment on the nightly news is devoted to an academic or arts story. As a columnist, I finally have the opportunity to write the types of stories I have always wanted to read. I know many athletes and I appreciate the hard work they put into practices and games, but students involved in other school activities also deserve media coverage and acknowledgment for their accomplishments.

This is one of the reasons I am proud to be a part of the Rosemount High School marching band this year. We have been recognized by several newspapers for our accomplishments in competitions this fall, and will hopefully do well at our first regional competition, the Mid-Iowa Band Championship, in Ankeny, Iowa, this weekend. Thanks to the Rosemount Town Pages and our new fans for your support this marching band season.

This column originally appeared in the Rosemount Town Pages on October 1, 2004.
Advertisements

Friday Flashback: “Thank you for reading”

In June 2007, I graduated from Rosemount High School — the same high school my mother, grandmother and great-grandmother attended. I think that’s really where my reverence for the past began: my own growing awareness of the connections I felt with those who had come before me, the people who created the community that I had always known as “home.” During my sophomore, junior and senior years of high school, I had the opportunity to write a biweekly column entitled “Student Voices” for my hometown newspaper, the Rosemount Town Pages, an experience that deepened my awareness of my growing role in my community. There is no online record of this column, just a disorganized three-ring binder of newsprint clippings that I transport from apartment to apartment each time life takes me somewhere new. 

Much has changed since I first wrote about what it meant to be a high school student in my Minnesota hometown of 25,000. At the time, I was a driven student with a penchant for using the word “nevertheless” and ending each piece of writing with a quote from a famous person (which I will do again today). I had never lived outside my hometown, had no idea where I would go to college or what I would study and took myself much more seriously than I do today — a trait that is evident as I read back through my columns. I also had a long way to go in refining my writing skills, a journey I credit entirely to my English teacher at the time (and the greatest educator I’ve ever known), Ms. Nancy Storm. 

In the coming months, I will share a column each Friday as a way to preserve this period of my writing, and my self-discovery, on a digital platform. As I embark on my latest transition, I know there is much for me to learn from the person I was at fourteen. After all, as Nelson Mandela wrote, “There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to find the ways in which you yourself have altered.” I thought it fitting to start today with my penultimate column; next week, I’ll take you back to the beginning. 


“Thank you for reading”

Date of Publication: June 1, 2007

Every other Sunday night, my mom frantically asks, “What are you going to write about for the newspaper this week?” As some of you know, I am a chronic procrastinator. After three years of intermittent anxiety about finding topics for my biweekly columns, I have reached my final “regular” column (I will write one last time for next week’s special graduation feature).

You, the readers of the Rosemount Town Pages, have been my extended family during the past three years. You’ve watched me grow up. You’ve shared my joys and struggles and connected me to our community in ways that I couldn’t have anticipated. Although I would never presume to represent all my peers, I hope I have shared my thoughts and experiences in a way that showed you the commonalities among all Rosemount High School Students, and, on a much larger scale, among all people.

As I look back on the most significant events of my high school years, I realize I have shared them all with you: the year my grandfather lived with my family, the marching band’s record of excellence, my obsession with Harry Potter. My excitement about Rosemount’s future library. Compulsively buying t-shirts for all my activities and classes. The epic odyssey of my college selection process. Running out of gas two days in a row, and being rescued by a platoon of Good Samaritans. You have been there through it all.

Thank you for supporting me by reading my columns every other week. Though I have never met many of you, I appreciate all of you. I have gained so much from my experiences as a student columnist for the Rosemount Town Pages, and I hope that I have, in some small way, given you something to think about now and then. I am proud to have provided you, my community, with some insight into what high school life is like for Rosemount’s teenagers. Writing for you (and in some cases, about you) has been a wonderful opportunity, and one I will miss very much. Once again, thank you for being my companions on this journey.

This column originally appeared in the Rosemount Town Pages on June 1, 2007.