Dear Readers for May 14, 2009

Last week, I had the opportunity to speak at Career Day at Cedar Bluff Middle School in Knoxville. Being a former “School Page” reporter for the News Sentinel, I still get a charge out of being in area schools. I used to spend a lot of time in schools -- both as a parent volunteer, PTA president and as a journalist.

I don’t get to go to school as often these days, so Career Day was a treat. Even in the spring, as school winds to a close, it was fun to be among the students.

The students were very polite, appeared interested, asked good questions. But still, it was there -- just under the surface, ready to bubble up if self-control were to waiver.

The “I’m Done” syndrome.

There isn’t a teacher or parent in the world who doesn’t know what I’m talking about. It’s late spring. School will be out in a few weeks. TCAPS, Gateways, proms and field trips are over, and summer is a longing felt in every fiber of your being. And the students -- no matter how dedicated and how hard they try -- they’re just “Done.”

At Blount Today, however, our phones and emails are stuffed. Finishing up the school year gives a lot of opportunities for a community newspaper. While academia may be taking a short respite, activities aren’t. There are struts and strolls, contests and award luncheons, graduations and academic banquets, field days and golf tournaments and on and on and on!

This week, we are celebrating schools and all the wonderful things that go on in and around our Blount County, Alcoa and Maryville schools. We’ve been covering events all spring, so now we’re getting them to you, giving you a peek at what the students have going on.

It’s an interesting “A” section. Heritage High has more good news from U.S. Cellular (page 3). The new Blount County Director of Schools is in the Chat Room (page 4) and friends honor out-going schools director Alvin Hord (page 8). William Blount and Heritage students are finding out who is “tops” in Top Wrench and welding competitions (page 10). Foothills students are racing flatboats (page 11), and Maryville school bands entertain at Greenbelt park (page 9). Over at Sam Houston, they are doing their Strut (page 13) and all the schools celebrate some very special students at the Turnaround breakfast (page 6).

And guess what? We really just scratched the surface this week. We will continue our schools bonanza next week because for every story we presented today, we have two more waiting for its time in print. Poetry Slams, a semester at sea, golf tournaments, more band events, art awards -- all will be coming your way next week.

We won’t dedicate next week’s newspaper exclusively to schools like we did the A section this week because we have some exciting other things to share with you. I can’t wait for you to read -- and watch the video -- on Hops for Hope and the Spring Blossom dinner. We’ve been to open houses, political rallies and pancake breakfasts. And I have a photo layout on a special Sunday at St. Paul’s church that is heartwarming.

Also out on the streets this week are two extra publications by Blount Today. Go by a KenJo Market and pick up a copy of the Graduation paper. We will be giving Graduation 2009 and our new magazine, “The Year in Sports,” to all the county’s graduating seniors as we attend their graduations this week. You can always pick them up in our office or -- for the Graduation paper -- at KenJo. The “Year in Sports” is $1 each, and worth every nickel of it!

When we first started Blount Today almost five years ago, I lay awake at night, worrying that we would never have enough every week to fill the paper with “just” community events. Today I lay awake at night, worrying that we could publish 60 pages and still have things left to share!

I guess I’m awake either way! But I much prefer the too much worry over too little.

Enjoy this “School’s Out (almost)” issue of Blount Today. Don’t miss next week. Come by and pick up our two special sections. And, if you don’t want to miss a single issue of Blount Today, sign up for a mailed subscription.

What a great place this is! And we are so happy to share your community with you.

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