It’s true – kids really do say the darndest things

Published 11:59 am Thursday, November 15, 2007

By Staff
Being a journalist, I have gotten used to people criticizing me for things I have and haven't done. It's part of the job and actually should be in the job description. Somewhere in big bold letters they need to address the fact that "if you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen."
I am usually pretty good about handling any situation thrown my way, but on Monday night, I wanted to get out of the kitchen. I felt like I was in a deep fryer!
There are usually a few different meetings on Monday nights – City Council, Township and Brandywine and Niles School Board meetings – so I never know where I will be. This past Monday, I headed to Brandywine's meeting.
I walked in to find a group of fourth grade students holding big posters they had made, so I figured they would be giving some kind of presentation, which would make for a good story. Little did I know this presentation was going to be about me and an article I wrote.
The meeting started as usual, and the kids had a few minutes before their presentation began. It was then that I noticed there were Niles Daily Star headlines and an article on these posters boards, which made me interested, as it was obvious they were going to be talking about our paper.
When it was their turn to talk, their teacher, Mr. Jim Ackles, gave a brief speech about how the children read an article from the Niles Daily Star every Friday and discuss it in class. The school even has a Junior Journalism Program and there was a young journalist there taking pictures of the event. I offered him a job, but he gave me a funny look.
For their presentation, the students decided to talk about the article which myself and John Eby wrote about Brandywine and other area schools being labeled "dropout factories." I thought it was great that the students were able to voice their opinions on the issue, but boy, they were straight and to the point.
As soon as the first group got up to read why they thought the article was not good, I knew I was in trouble, especially considering every other word was "Ms. Pickles was wrong, Ms. Pickles did not have her facts right, Ms. Pickles made our school look bad."
Talk about wanting to hide behind a chair or run out of the room. It was harsh! But I stayed, listened to what they had to say, kept a smile on my face and actually enjoyed being bashed in a room full of people.
I have had people say some unpleasant things to my face during my three years with the paper. I have learned to deal with it and really try not to get upset about it. But for some reason, sitting in that room that night, I was nervous. I cannot even begin to describe how nervous I was – I was shaking, the room temperature went from the normal 65-70 degrees to 150 degrees and I know my face was as red as a lobster. And these were just kids!
This was definitely a moment I will never forget. In the end though, I was more than impressed with these students. They are very smart, delivered a great presentation and they think very highly of their school. It was obvious this article affected them and they wanted nothing more than to prove to everyone that their school is far from a dropout factory. I couldn't agree more!
I would have to say the funniest moment of the night was when board member Dennis Cooper asked the children if they had ever met Ms. Pickles (they had no idea I was even there). When all of them shook their heads no, he pointed to the corner of the room and said "well there she is."
The look on their faces was priceless! There eyes were big, some mouths were open and I just waved to them and said hi. Of course, I did get a few questions thrown at me, like "why did you say that about our school." But I tried my best to explain to them that it was not my opinion and my information came from another source – not just me making things up.
What most impressed me was that after the students were finished, they came over to where I was sitting, shook my hand and introduced themselves. Some even apologized, but I let them know there was no need at all for an apology. They did a wonderful job!
So to the students that were present that evening, again I will say you did a great job. I do not think your school is bad, I do not think you are bad students and I definitely do not think your school is a "dropout factory." It's far from it. If our tax dollars go to universities who conduct studies such as this one, I want a refund. It's not only a waste of time and money, but it puts a false label on excellent schools.
I must say though, they weren't lying when they say kids say the darndest things!