I made my first real friend 1995, a result of our placement in Mrs. Holloway’s kindergarten classroom and shared love of art. From that year forward, we were inseperable and would spend hours at her old, Vicotorian house reading and playing with our American Girl dolls.
Her dad, Mr. Walton, happened to work as a cameraman for one of the local television stations – which came along with a handful of perks that make a 10-year-old feel awfully important. We got to sit on the set and watch the WNDU evening news play out in front of our eyes, and Mr. Walton was always there to help us edit footage for the homemade music videos we dreamed of sending in to MTV’s Total Request Live.
Of all the experiences Mr. Walton allowed us, however, the most exciting took place halfway through my third grade year.
Let me just preface this with the fact that I was a pretty cluttered child. Whether it was scatered piles of navy and white school uniform clothes, Tiger Beat magzines or my endless collection of body glitter, my floor was routinely covered to point where you couldn’t actually see the carpet. My college roommate whipped my into shape (thanks, Lindsey!), so it’s not so much of a problem anymore, but in 1999 it was a “Parenting Problem.”
WNDU came up with the idea to run a series of packages on the nightly new details common parenting problems and how they could be remedied. I’m not sure how he’d heard of my messy tendancies, but Mr. Walton approached my mom one afternoon after school to see if I’d like to be featured on the segment, “Parenting Problems: Messy Bedrooms.”
It took me no more that two seconds to respond with a resounding yes. Me? On TV? Of course! Not until much, much later did I realize the embarassing implications of not only a camera crew documenting my pigsty, but of my mother speaking on the record about just how messy I was as well.
The camera crew came two seperate nights, one for a “before” shot and to grab some footage of a store in town installing a fancy, new closet organizer and a second night for an “after” shot. The catch? I had to actually clean my room between the two shots. This wasn’t a huge deal though – preteen me would have done just about anything for my six minutes of fame.
I anxiously anticipated the newscast both nights, and my parents recorded it on a VHS tape that’s probably still laying around in my basement somewhere. Nearly 15 years later, it’s just a funny story; back then, however, it meant the world to me, despite the embarrassing nature of the entire story.
Now imagine had the entire segment not aired. The entire leadup, the excitement and the waiting, sitting cross-legged on my living room floor as the minutes ticked down until 6 o’clock.
That scenario is pretty similar to an incident that happened here at the Daily News last week. Ty Rushing and I visited Thomas Jefferson to hang out with some of Mrs. Frehse’s third graders and talk with them about the issues of school uniforms. We picked five kids to feature in that week’s education section, all of whom were really excited that the newspaper wanted to talk to them.
Fast forward to Thursday afternoon as I’m putting the education page together. Lo and behold, the page template only had room for four kids. Not thinking much of it, I uploaded the first four photos in the file and that was that.
What I didn’t realize is what a big deal it was for the one whose photo and opinion didn’t make it into the paper.
Wyatt Hall had come home from school and told not only his parents, but his grandmother and his aunt as well, about how he’d been interview for the paper. He anxiously checked our website to see if we’d updated it with the story, but when that paper came out on Friday, his heart sank.
As a 22 year old, it’s sometimes hard for me to understand things on a third-grade level, but his story brought me right back to my own elementary school brush with fame. Having been there once too, I want to extend a sincere apology to Wyatt and his family – but he’d better bet we’ll be back to TJ soon with another question ready for him.