I ordered a shirt last month. It arrived last week. All proceeds go to support the Capital Gazette newspaper after that horrific shooting in late June when five people were killed.
The front of the shirt says "I back the First Amendment." On the reverse side the entire First Amendment is printed. It is not an expensive or fancy shirt. Light cotton. I am sure it will shrink. White with black lettering, except for the word "back," which is printed in blue.
As a new school year approaches, we teachers usually get excited, and hope to make it a great year. Optimism runs high. You know the feeling: "THIS year I am going to teach better, be organized, really push the kids, and take things to a new level." New year. New hope. New challenges.
As I enter my 35th year at Hillcrest High School, where our enrollment will start at around 1,100, and slowly drop during the year, where more than two-thirds of our kids are on free or reduced lunch, and our 60-year-old building sometimes feels older, I wonder how excited I am.
The answer is: pretty excited. Maybe even "really" excited. Yes, I am part-time these days. Two broadcast classes every other day. A soft load for this old-timer. I retired in 2012 from full-time teaching, and rolled right into part-time, in my same classroom, teaching my two favorite classes, Broadcast Journalism I and Broadcast Journalism II. This will be my 35th year at the same school, and the 29th year teaching the classes I actually started at Hillcrest back in 1989.
In a couple of weeks, when I walk into my classroom for the first time, I think I will wear my new shirt. Remind my kids that reporters die in the line of duty every year. Tell them reporting what is happening around the world, or in the classroom around the corner, is important, and worthy of them, and essential to our freedom. I hope a few will consider journalism as a career, but most years, they don't. The relocating, the long hours, the low salaries...it's not a very good career choice. I saw a survey recently that put "journalist" at the bottom of smart career choices.
I'm just glad some people still do it. Bring us the truth, sometimes at a very high cost. Yep, I think I'll wear my shirt.