Don’t sell these kids short

There comes a time in every newspaper reporter’s life when the challenge of the next reportorial assignment leaves much to be desired.

That happened to me last week when I was tasked to cover the 11th Annual Teaching Minds and Hands Invention Convention at Brewer High School.

It was the busiest day of the workweek. I was running late. I didn’t have enough gas in my car to make the trip and back. An Invention Convention was unfamiliar to me and I didn’t know exactly where on campus it was being held.

To make matters worse, one of the office aides at the school didn’t know anything about the event and I had to consult with a staff member. After a delay, I was directed to a building behind the gymnasium and next to the band room. After relocating my car to the main student parking lot, I began to look around for a sign of student activity and found nothing. Next, I tried three exterior doors on the south and west sides of the auxiliary gym and all were locked. Finally, I caught up with the first sergeant of the school’s JROTC unit and asked for help. He quickly led me down two hallways in the gym to the special education classroom/kitchen.

I walked in 10 minutes late as the first invention exhibitor, James Prince, was getting an ovation from fellow students after showing them the scale model catapult he invented.

The next inventor/exhibitor was Preston Haggenmaker. After he showed his exhibit – The Battle of Decatur – I was hooked. For the next hour, I was caught up in what they were doing, excitedly snapping photos and scribbling notes. I even found myself joining in the clapping for each student as he or she was introduced and again after their presentations were concluded.

I was amazed and impressed with the creativity the students showed in building and demonstrating their exhibits. For example, Brad Nordstorm showed a fascinating display of railroad memorabilia and concluded his presentation with his own rendition of a railroad song thanks to the urging of fellow students. A speaker box invented by John Denny held the students spellbound as it sang a rendition of “The Old Rugged Cross.”

Little did I know ahead of time that an hour in a special-ed classroom would make my day and leave memories to savor for a life time. Way to go, Teaching Minds and Hands students.

Clif Knight is a staff writer for the Hartselle Enquirer.

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