Welcome. I sit here this week trying to decide how to begin a column I never would have chosen to write. However, as we know, change happens and nothing is safe from change.
So it is with this final edition of the Farmington Rosemount Independent Town Pages. This is the last time we meet here. And after nearly seven complete years, how do I bring our relationship to a close?
I have saved every column I ever wrote and a few that never made it to the pages of the paper, for one reason or another. For the purpose of this final column, I was reading my first column "proposal" to the paper when I suggested it to one of its editors.
I cringe now as I read it. After nearly seven complete years of writing the column, I believe I've improved as a writer. Here's a sample of that very first column from Aug. 22, 2012: "You already know my name is Chuck Brooks, based on the byline above. Many of you probably know I'm an English teacher at Rosemount High School. This fall, I'm beginning year 31. Yup. I've gotten old."
It was comfortable to write this column from the start because I had a history with so many of you. It was always comfortable.
That first column was 712 words. Over time, I slowly added to the count and on the average, the paper allowed my column to run to about 850 words weekly. I'd do my best to keep the words at a minimum, but sometimes, it was darn near impossible!
The range of topics changed from the first two years of the column to more freedom after retirement. In the first two years, I dealt with topics concerning education, students, and the entire school family. Usually, in the first column after Labor Day, I would try to impart some insight and knowledge for the parents on how to begin their child's school year on a positive note. At that point, I had taught 31 years, so I had some credibility on the subject.
One of my favorite columns was when I'd throw a question to my classes on a subject, inviting them to respond on a notecard if they so wished. Then I'd read through their answers and pick the ones I felt made for a good column. In both years in November, I asked them what they were thankful for at Thanksgiving. Students gave fun and thoughtful answers.
In the past seven years, you've come to know Willy, my cat, and all I love about him. You also got a peek into the window of my heart regarding my mom and dad on the anniversaries of their passing or their birthdays over seven years.
You were there when I retired because I shared my thoughts and feelings with you about how it felt to hang up the "pointer and the chalk" after 33 years. That first summer I was the grand marshal for the Leprechaun Days parade, and I was humbled. I arrived at the parade's end, was taken back to the announcer's table and picked up announcing the remainder of the parade. When done, I couldn't race to Caribou quickly enough to write my next column about how the honor felt. You always had a doorway into my soul.
There were times when the topics just weren't coming to me, so I would use my cop-out topic, "Random Thoughts By The Teacher," or in retirement, "... By The Retired Teacher." It often worked as a bridge between weeks when I could muster up a decent topic for you all. Holidays always provided me with substantial material. It was the Dec. 19, 2012, Christmas column when I wrote, 'Twas The Night Before Christmas ... In Rosemount. I had no intention of that being anything more than my present to my loyal Rosemount readers.
Farmington was not part of the paper yet. It was only after I had written it that I discovered an unexpected fondness for the finished product and pursued my student to create illustrations to match the text, so we could turn it into an actual holiday book for the community. It was this column that opened that door for us.
The topics here have been too numerous to continue to list. I know this much: It's been a pleasure to write for you all, including my new friends in Farmington. You've always been incredibly kind in your feedback and I've appreciated your kindness.
I've been invited to continue writing a column for another edition of this company's papers, The Hastings Star Gazette. It begins with next week's edition. I look forward to the new challenge. However, I will miss writing for you all.
If you're inclined to want to read the new column, or just
read me nightly, check out my blog. Six days of the week I write for practice. Every Thursday night, I will post the weekly column. Feel free to join me for the ride! https://theviewfrommyroom224.wordpress.com
Be happy and safe, and I hope our paths will cross again in the future.