Me and my shadow

My table at Eagle Point City Council meetings has been set for two for the last month. The second chair has been occupied by “my shadow”, Victoria Miller. She is a senior at Eagle Point High School interested in journalism. And, as anyone with an upper classman at EPHS knows, seniors are required to do a senior project. Victoria made arrangements late last year to spend some time at the Upper Rogue Independent, and specifically with the editor, to learn something about the writing process for a community newspaper.

Our first session was just a general meeting. I learned that she also worked besides living the life of a senior and the additional requirements for a senior project.

Victoria made some adjustments in her work schedule so she could attend some meetings because she learned writing stories often involves far more than sitting behind a computer. The first meeting she attended was  the one with the largest crowd the city had seen since the Wal-Mart hearing several years ago.

The primary purpose of that evening was the awarding of plaques to outgoing council members and the seating of new ones. Victoria’s story even included a quote or two, not always easily done, but she did it.

Our staff got a good laugh out of one of the things she reported on. We laughed because it underscored the problem everyone faces when staff and councilors use acronyms or letters instead of a full name. Victoria said one of the councilors had been assigned to “soil ready.” The councilor had been assigned to SOREDI, which actually stands for Southern Oregon Regional Economic Development Incorporated, but between the crowd, the lack of clarity by the speaker and the lack of familiarity by Victoria, she wrote”soil ready” although such an appointment  had her quite puzzled. We can hope this will be a lesson for not just city councilors but other groups, such as school boards and their staffs, to use proper names or organizations at least once in their discussions.   

Victoria attended last week’s council meeting as well and this time she came with a new camera and continued enthusiasm.

I have previously had a student or two assigned to “shadow” but I never felt it was of much value to either of us. First, there has never been a session that I am aware of with the school district staff or teacher in charge to explain the role of the person or business to be shadowed. Nor in most cases did the student seem clear except he or she had to get this thing done in order to graduate.

Perhaps the school of  hard knocks is offering a clearer understanding of this project for us and made easier and more interesting because a student like Victoria Miller cares.

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