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Tag: unions

Biweekly Wrap-up: Back to school 2012-13!

The 2012-13 school year started this week with a bang.


I got rear-ended on the way to Jacobs High School in Algonquin on Monday, the first day of school in Carpentersville-area Community Unit School District 300.

I was sitting in my car at a red light in Carpentersville. It was raining, and I heard tires squealing, and I glanced up into the rearview mirror and thought, “The first day of school!” I ended up halfway across the intersection. Luckily, the light just had turned and nobody had started into the intersection yet. Not luckily. Miraculously.

The other driver was terrified and apologetic. She’d never been in an accident, much less caused one before, she said. I hugged her and said it was OK, it was raining, it was slick, it was just my bumper, accidents happen. And, hey, usually when my car gets hit, and this isn’t unusual with all the miles I drive between work in the suburbs and home in the city, it gets totaled and I end up in the hospital. When the very kind Carpentersville policewoman arrived, she asked if I wanted her to write the other driver a ticket. My car just had spun out on some rain on top of oil on the expressway the week before, so I had a lot of grace for this sort of thing. And I said, no, I didn’t want to put her through that; I just wanted her insurance to fix my bumper, cracked and dented and hanging off one side of my car. The policewoman wrote her a warning. I still made it to school before the back-to-school assembly I’d planned to cover for the newspaper.

For a delirious moment, it felt like the Kingdom of Heaven had arrived on earth. Things were working as they ought, with honesty and grace and forgiveness and humor. This was salvation — not just in eternity, but in the here and now, salvation from the trouble she could have caused me and unglued reaction I could have had. And then the other driver’s insurance let me know yesterday they won’t be sending me the full price to replace the bumper. There was a small dent already in the bumper, so they don’t have to, they said. I looked this up, and they’re right: in Illinois, at least, they don’t. Which seems unfair. And also like a great deal of money I would rather not spend.

I’m not sure what the moral of this story is, other than the Lord gives, and the Lord takes away, may the Name of the Lord be praised (Job 1:21). And while we join Christ in the work of His new creation, a new heaven and a new earth, we ain’t yet perfect and it ain’t yet here (2 Corinthians 5:17, 2 Peter 3:13-15).

Also, there is no owl.

Hopefully, the start of the school year next week at Elgin Community College and School District U46, the second-largest in Illinois, will be a little quieter. Here’s what I’ve written the past two weeks leading up to that:

Photo credit: Michael Smart for Sun-Times Media.




Biweekly Wrap-up: I <3 the Olympics

I don’t love sports.

I guess I should say I don’t love games: football, basketball, baseball, this even extends to chess and Connect Four and any other board games or yard games. Because I do really love the Olympics (except for the soccer, basketball, volleyball and tennis parts).

Maybe the difference is the Olympics come with feature stories about each athlete’s journey to the games, and I’m a sucker for a good story. Or because the Parade of Nations brings to mind apocalyptic visions of a new creation, of people of every tribe, tongue and nation jubilantly gathering together (without trying to kill each other), as Rachel Held Evans noted. Or because these are games that push athletes to do their personal best or to push their bodies to their most magnificent  limit — or are just cool, like curling or archery, which is the new curling, or haven’t you heard?

I wrote about both games, and my abiding love for the Olympics, in a column this week for The Courier-News (“Trying out archery to get to the point of the Olympics“), the climax of what my friend Crysta has called “The Emily McFarlan Best Summer Ever Tour.” Alas, the first of the two school districts I cover starts class in just over a week!

Stay tuned for more Olympics coverage next weekend. I wrote about Algonquin native Rockne Brubaker for The Courier-News when he just missed out on competing in the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver. Another Algonquin native, Evan Jager, just qualified today to race for the gold Sunday in the steeplechase at the Summer Games in London. Meantime, here are all the other articles I wrote the past two weeks, when I wasn’t on a crossbow-shooting high:

Don’t forget to enter my very first giveaway by leaving a comment on Monday’s post by 11:59 p.m. Monday. You won’t win a gold medal, but you will win a book, which is just about as good as gold to me.

Photo credit: Sun-Times Media.

Biweekly Wrap-up: On the ice cream beat

I never imagined myself as an education reporter.

In fact, I thought I’d be a religion reporter. In college, I freelanced pieces about Christianity and Islam on campus for the Washington Square News. But as newspaper staffs have shrunk across the country, I doubt there are many dedicated religion reporters left. And as our staff shrunk at The Courier-News, I bounced around to fill in gaps, first as a features reporter; then as “Readers’ Reporter,” editing our community pages and getting reader-submitted content into the paper; then reporting again, first covering the villages around Elgin, then just Carpentersville and its school district and now Carpentersville-area Community Unit School District 300, Elgin School District U46, Elgin Community College and all the private schools within those districts.

Education has turned out to be the perfect beat for me, the perfect combination of hard news and fun features, for which I get to spend hours out of my day in schools, playing with kids. Even better, it’s a beat in which people really are interested, always, because the kids we are educating are our future, and especially now under the spotlight of No Child Left Behind and popular documentaries like “Waiting for Superman.”

But summer is pretty slow on the schools beat. That’s how I end up on the gardening beat. Or, it seems like this week, the ice cream beat.

And so what do I find myself doing this summer in all that free time that comes from not working hours and hours of overtime during the week? Religion reporting. My freelance work really is picking up, what with articles for RELEVANT two weeks in a row and an upcoming post for… wait for it… Christianity Today’s her.meneutics blog. The irony.

Here are the other articles I’ve written over the past two weeks for Sun-Times Media:

Photo credit: Michael Smart for Sun-Times Media.

Weekly Wrap-Up: Legislation, contracts, charter approved

I tried something new in May, wrapping up all my short stories for The Courier-News in one post at the end of the week so as not to overwhelm anybody’s feed reader. I think I’ll stick with the format. This past week was short one, but still a good example why. In addition to today’s cover story about the new Native Medicinal Garden at the Elgin Public Museum, I wrote:

Photo credit: Michael Smart for Sun-Times Media.

U46: Tentative pact rejected by teachers had been ‘very fair’ (Sun-Times Media)

U46: Tentative pact rejected by teachers had been ‘very fair’ (Sun-Times Media)