Blogs > Sun Insider

News and quick-hit commentary from around mid-Michigan ... from the Morning Sun.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Recess at Rose: Just brilliant

“Recess at Rose” was just a brilliant idea.
This holiday week is a tough time to teach or to be in school. The distraction of Thanksgiving is pretty powerful.
Central Michigan University came up with a brilliant solution – a combination of a leadership and anti-bullying seminar, aimed at kids, and a women’s basketball game. They invited kids from about 18 different mid-Michigan districts to come to campus.
It wasn’t just about filling the seats, although they did that. Think about what this did:
It got kids to come to a university campus. They might live just a few miles away, but if someone doesn’t have a reason to cross Mission Street, most people won’t do it.
There’s something about a university campus that sparks people to think more about their own possibilities. You’re surrounded by bright young people pursuing an education and having a good time. Even if you’re 9 years old, you can catch that sense of possibility, even if you can’t name it.
It was a women’s basketball game. A lot of the kids were girls, many from central Michigan’s little towns. How valuable is it for them to see women, just a few years older than they are, performing at the Division I college level?
Again, it might get them started on thinking about the possibilities, and get them past self-defeating “I’m just a girl” thinking.
The boys saw the game, too. They saw strong, talented women playing a game they play, too – and playing it way better than any boy can play it at the elementary school level. Practice, boys, practice.
The future will require well-educated, talented people, or we all will fail. If spending “recess at Rose” makes some of these young people comfortable with the idea that there are more possibilities than they have been exposed to, comfortable with the idea of gaining higher education, comfortable with being part of a university community, we all win.
Some of the best lessons in school aren’t learned behind a desk.
And it might even produce a few Chippewa fans.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

How a mistake happens

I've made my share of goofs in print, and had to run corrections. It's an occupational hazard - none of us were born in mangers nor were we dropped from the planet Krypton to save the Earth.
But I unilaterally elected the wrong person village president in Shepherd. The voters set me straight on that.
Here's what happened: Because Isabella County can't post running election totals on its own, we do it. We've designed an extensive online spreadsheet where we can enter each precinct's vote totals as they come out of the counting machine.
On election night, we updated the totals from that about every 15 minutes, sometimes faster.
We've used it the last few elections and had great confidence in it. We found the bug this time.
It was a human error - mine. A programming error. When I set up the spreadsheet for the village election, I put the candidates' names in the wrong order.
In one of the two Shepherd precincts, incumbent Lee Coughlin got the votes meant for challenger Sandy Baxter, and vice-versa. It was enough to change the apparent outcome.
A sharp-eyed commenter on spotted it, and I read the comment early Thursday morning.
By 7:15 a.m., I had tracked down the goof and fixed it online. But that wasn't until after Thursday's print edition carried an item saying Baxter beat Coughlin.
I said some things that the profanity filters on our comments section would ban.
I count both Lee and Sandy as public-spirited people who both want what's best for their community. As people, I like them both.
I hope they'll accept my apology.
I do know that in the bang-bang, zoom-zoom world of online journalism, it won't be the last time a mistake will be made. But just as making the mistakes is faster than it used to be, correcting them is faster, too.
-- Mark R