Schools help make the job easier

Posted May 8, 2013 at 12:32 pm

BABBLING BROOKS column–Express Editor Kim Brooks

As the school year draws to a close, students, staff and teachers are preparing to head home for the start of the summer season. That also means the Express loses our great contacts at the schools here in Monticello.

You see, whenever we cover a school-related event for the paper such as a band or choir concert, a classroom project or public speaking event, we always take plenty of pictures of the students. While our Sports Editor Pete Temple knows pretty much every kid within our schools, believe it or not, there are times where a face stumps him.

This is when we turn to the school secretaries, teachers and staff to assist us.

I recently covered the Shannon Elementary School spring concert, which, if I may say so myself, was quite enjoyable! I took quite a few pictures of the kindergarteners and first graders, but had no clue who many of them were.

Thanks to the miracle of e-mail and the patience of the staff and teachers, we’re able to get names of all the kids we take pictures of, week after week.

It’s great to be able to have such a wonderful relationship with the schools here in Monticello, in more ways than one. Not only do they assist in identifying the students, but they contact the Express with potential story ideas whenever a certain grade level or class is working on an interesting project, and they remind us of school events.

So as the school year comes to another close, this is my thank-you to the schools for all the help! You definitely make my job a little easier.

Lately, I’ve been able to interview many locals doing amazing things and tell their stories in the Express for all of our readers. Kate Strittmatter is currently living in South Korea, not too far from the North Korean border. It was great hearing from her and telling her story, as many were surprised to find out the anxiety in the south is not what we would expect from national news reports.

Anytime we can localize a national event like that or the unfortunate situation in Boston, our readers can hear from those who were really there.

I am working on a few other great human-interest features to come yet this month… A Monticello High School graduate, Jacob Smith, is currently touring with the off-Broadway musical “Rock of Ages.” I’ve been in contact with him and hope to put the story together with photos before his performance at the Paramount Theater in Cedar Rapids later this month.

Another MHS graduate, Mandy Bowman, is living in New Zealand. Her story on how she used to work for Congressman Bruce Braley and now doing humanitarian work will be another great feature!

If you know of anyone from the area that has a great story to share or is off doing something unique, please let us know. Many times word of mouth is the best way to hear about a story idea for the Express.

While we do cover plenty of city and county meetings, it’s the human interest features that people really enjoy reading on a regular basis.