New Castle News

May 24, 2013

Gary Church: Speaking to Neshannock students lands me in principal’s office

Gary Church
New Castle News

NEW CASTLE — When the phone rings, and the caller says, "Gary, Tim Kolodziej," I start bracing myself for another exciting adventure.

On this particular occasion, he wanted me to speak at Neshannock High School, for Career Day.

He said it would be a cinch. Just tell them what you do at the New Castle News.

I figured that would take me about two minutes.

I became a concerned citizen.

It just so happens that I have some friends in high places.

I contacted Mohawk guidance counselor Amy Lutz for some guidance.

She gave me six questions that I should talk on.

I was nervous.

On the day of the speech, nothing went as planned.

I was supposed to speak at 11:30 a.m.

At 10:20, I got a call from The News wanting me to take a photo of a train derailment in Mahoningtown.

This put me a little behind, but I arrived at Neshannock at 11:20, only to find that my talk wasn't until 11:45.

Tim told me to go to the office and two girls would escort me to where I was supposed to go.

There was only one guy there who escorted me.

Since I was so early, they had to do something with me until it was my time to talk.

You'll never guess where they put me.

I got put in the hot seat in the principal’s office.

That brought back some memories. I spent a lot of time in the principal’s office when I was in school.

The chair I sat in must have been for smaller students. When I got up, it came with me.

That was a little embarrassing.

While in the principal’s office, I learned I was speaking to seventh- and eighth-graders.

I assumed I was going to talk to seniors.

Now that really got me nervous. I have never spoken to young people before.

I think I have found my calling in life, explaining journalism to junior high students.

When I was done, one girl gave me a standing ovation. It was either that or she really had to go to the bathroom.

I guess at Neshannock, you are not allowed to close the door.

Because I might have said a few things that they found humorous, the laughter was quite loud for the whole 27 minutes.

Explaining the Black Whale to Neshannock junior high students is quite a treat.

When I walked out of the classroom, guess who was standing outside the door?

None other than the principal. I looked down the hall and several teachers were outside their door, glaring my way.

I got out of there as quick as my body could move. I just knew the principal had that, "You're getting detention" look in her eye.

The students I spoke to were a perfect audience.

I would have to say of all the mass throngs I have spoken to over the years, this group was my favorite one of all.

One student actually asked me to be her Facebook friend.

How can you top that?

Now I guess I'll just sit back and wait for the next call to Adventureland.