I stepped back in time last week to my high school alma mater.
I served as a panelist for Greenwood Community High School’s Senior Capstone presentations and read through and listened to the presentations of our future leaders.
Not to sound like an old fogey, but I must admit I enjoyed seeing the students making great eye contact and dressed to impress in modest dresses and suits and ties. Having coordinated a junior high speech meet for seven years, I have high expectations for student speakers — and was quite impressed with the quality presentations.
Kudos to Julia Yeater, the high school library supervisor who coordinated all the community volunteer panelists.
The following day I was invited to career day at Custer Baker Intermediate School in Franklin. In the invitation to speak, it was communicated that if I had a uniform that I wear in my career, I could do so. I couldn’t help but envy the police officer who did wear his uniform because he did look rather stately. Which is why I chose not to wear my writing uniform, because some people frown on adults wearing their polka-dot pajamas in public.
But I was honest enough to tell the young man who asked “What does a work-day look like as a writer?” that sometimes a writer’s day includes a bit of staring out the window, while juggling a couple different articles, setting up interviews and lots of revisions and editing.
Some of my favorite questions from astute students included:
1) Do your hands ever get tired? (No, but the body part that sits on the chair gets tired of sitting — a stand-up desk may be in my future.)
2) Do you use a computer to write a draft or long hand with a paper and pen? (I always use a computer for deadline writing, but enjoy paper and pen when writing long form creative nonfiction essays or journaling.)
3) Have you met any famous writers? (Jerry Jenkins, novelist and biographer, known for the Left Behind series and Elisabeth Elliot, Christian missionary, author and speaker. There have been many others, but those two came to mind.)
4) Where can I get my short stories published? (I love this kid. I told him about the “Writer’s Market” and sent the school the link to Indiana Young Writers and the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards.
5) What is one of your favorite articles that you’ve written? (This young lady will be a great interviewer.) I told this class about the time I was overwhelmed with emotions on a train in India, when my daughters 6, 4 and 8-months-old were thousands of miles away at home. A 4-year old girl, who spoke only Hindi sang the only English words she knew: “Don’t worry, be happy,” then offered me a cupped hand of corn flakes.
Kudos to Tammy Schneider, sixth-grade counselor and Lorrie Burkhart, secretary at Custer Baker Intermediate School, (and one of my favorite cousins) for organizing career day.
The future is bright — I saw it with my own eyes.