Joe Burns mug

Joe Burns

I suppose I’m not alone in wondering where did the summer go? Even Labor Day, that last hurrah of summer, is history. I fondly remember when I was a kid that Labor Day was the last chance for a swim at Peony Park Pool in Omaha. Now most of the pools close in mid-August and the schools have been in session for nearly three weeks.

As a career teacher and life-long learner, my routine and rituals are tuned to the beat and rhythm of the school year. My school year assignments usually begin with photographing the new teachers during those first days of teacher meetings. The optimism and energy of both young and veteran teachers remind me of when I was a young teacher.

I enjoy photographing the first day of the school year as well. I love capturing those moments when parents say goodbye and the youngsters enter the building, some enthusiastically and some hesitantly, to meet their teacher and begin the school year.

The first home football game is always an iconic social event as well as athletic event.  The game is often a meet and greet with old friends and recently graduated students. This year the first Blair High School home football game was the annual homecoming celebration as well. The homecoming parades are always fun to watch and to photograph as the athletes, dance team and cheerleaders greet and slap hands with the elementary school students that line the street.  

Last week’s Enterprise included our first Classroom of the Week page for this school year. This is another assignment that has been part of my school beat since about the time I began working for the newspaper. Throughout the school year just about every Blair kindergarten through third grade classroom and many Arlington and Fort Calhoun classrooms will be featured. 

Another part of the school beat that I most enjoy is visiting classrooms to photograph hands-on curricular activities that the public would otherwise not know about.  A couple weeks ago Managing Editor Leeanna Ellis and I sat in on a journalism class with University of Nebraska-Lincoln professor Matt Waite who teaches reporting and digital project development. Waite shared writing tips and stories about his experiences as a journalist. Waite, who is the principal developer of Pulitzer Prize-winning PolitiFact, grew up in Blair and his first journalism stories were written and published in the Blair High School newspaper.  

Recently, Ellis and I visited a Blair High School culinary arts class where the students were practicing their culinary skills  by making decorative garnishes under the direction of chefs Rodney Barth and Doug Taylor.

We will also be reporting on the new Blair High School robotics program, school budgets and school renovations and more as the year progresses.

In addition to feature photos, I often find myself at the scene of breaking news and it is important to tell these stories, too. At the newspaper, we do our best to get to the scene quickly and work with law enforcement and first responders to gather and publish accurate information.

Over the coming months, I will again be attending school events and activities and visiting classrooms to make pictures that tell the story of what is happening in Blair, Fort Calhoun and Arlington school districts.

The beat goes on…

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