Season's Greetings,

One and All!

December, 1993

The holidays are here again, and it intrigues me how as I get older time seems to pass both faster and slower.  There were occasions this year that seemed unending.  Overall, though, the months zipped by, and taken as a whole 1993 was a good year for me.

For me, as well as everyone else around here, the highlight of the winter was basketball.  The Garrigan Bears capped off an outstanding season with their first-ever trip to the state tournament.  I know and really like most of the players, and I really had fun cheering them on all the way.

Winter was also the time for speech.  The big news for us this year was having our first-ever double-event All-Stater.  I could pretend that I had something to do with that, but when it comes to All-State, it's the talent that matters--not the coach.

I suppose I should mention the other big winter event.  I went down to Des Moines in February to receive my finalist award in the Teacher of the Year competition.  Probably the most amusing part of the day was when Governor Branstad (who comes from this area) joked with me about how bad our local radio station is.  While I think I am a good teacher, I certainly don't claim to be teacher of the year.  Still, it's always good to know people appreciate what you do.

At Easter I took the closest thing to a vacation that I had this year.  I helped chaperone a group of our seniors (most of them, actually) on a trip to Chicago.  It was a whirlwind trip to all the major points of interest.  The highlights for me were going to the top of the Sears Tower and attending a White Sox game.  With a few exceptions the kids were good, so chaperoning wasn't that much of a challenge.

In May, those same seniors graduated.  I mention graduation because in my ten years at Garrigan, that is probably the class I've been the closest to.  Somehow their personalities just blended well with mine, and the Class of '93 is a group I won't soon forget.

Summer was different this year.  After spending the past two summers going to graduate school in Mississippi, this year I switched roles and became a professor.  Actually I was an adjunct instructor, teaching two night classes at Iowa Lakes Community College.  It was fun teaching adults (although the more advanced of the two classes was made up entirely of high-school students), and it was good to earn more money than I spent.  Actually the money they pay seems absurdly high to me, but who am I to argue?

I also took a class over the summer--a workshop in Gifted and Talented Education.  I'm hoping to eventually get a certification in that area, and this was the first in a series of classes leading to that.  I was expecting nothing out of the course, but it turned out to be really useful and informative.

Summer was also baseball season, and again I had fun being a fan.  As in basketball, I knew the players well, and that made it fun to watch.  While much of the season was plagued by rain-outs, overall the Bears did really well.  They advanced in tournaments and eventually made it to sub-state.

For out-of-state friends who may be wondering, Algona fared pretty well in the Flood of '93.  While I officially live in a disaster area, we were upstream from the worst of the problems.  This certainly wasn't a good year for the farmers, but compared to our neighbors to the South we are indeed counting our blessings.

School has been mostly un-eventful this year.  Homecoming went smoothly, as did our magazine drive.  I'm teaching the same classes as last year, and there's been nothing of much interest--good or bad--in any of them.  It's been more work this year, though, as I've been adapting to a new geometry book.  The book is totally different from the one I had been using, and so far I'm wavering back and forth between loving and hating it.  On the side I've been working with student council and broadcasting, as well as being a formal paid tutor for a kid who was preparing for the ACT.

My other activity at school is quiz bowl.  I spent literally hundreds of hours getting things organized for Garrigan's annual tournament, which was about twice as big as usual this year.  Our own team did well there, but the big news came at the beginning of December--when we actually won a championship, for the fist time in school history.

Finally, no summary of my life this past year would be complete without a mention of my student and good friend, James White.  James was one of those seniors who graduated last May, and over the years I've gotten to know him quite a bit better than most students.  Truth be told--he was the number one reason I went to all those basketball and baseball games.  I've tried to help him out however I could over the years, and now that he's entered college there's been no shortage of opportunities.  It's nice now that he's out of school that we can act like friends toward each other--rather than just being teacher and student.

As for the rest of the family . . . Margaret's school is suffering through some educational "innovations" that seem like the same ideas we found out were bad twenty years ago.  That's making her understandably burned out.  Aside from her job, though, she seems fine.  Next summer she's planning to take a group of kids to Europe.

Paul and Nancy are as busy as ever.  Paul had some interesting adventures earlier this fall serving as a Spanish interpreter for the police department.  I notice on the Christmas lists that Rachel's and Timothy's sizes keep going up.  It's hard to believe that Rachel was just a newborn when I started teaching.

Steve and Terry are now living in an Indian area near Gallup, New Mexico.  They both are teaching at a middle school in the area.  Margaret went out to visit them over the summer, and I'm hoping to get out there next year.  Steve was seriously ill (with flu, pneumonia, and strep throat) as I wrote this, and I certainly hope he'll be better for the holidays.

John and Janet are fine as always.  One big change in their life is that they quit smoking.  John has added to his duties at Andrew; now he's also the quiz bowl coach.

We met in Fredericksburg for a Burrow family reunion over the summer, and all the relatives seem well.  At Thanksgiving Margaret and I were down in Iowa City, where Alaire put us up and Harv and Max treated us to quite a feast.  The guests of honor were their daughter Ceil and her husband Guy, and it was really a pleasure to see them again.

Here in Algona we're already had more than our share of snow and howling winds this winter.  That's certainly annoying, but it's also a sure sign that Christmas is here once again.  I hope this holiday finds all of you happy and healthy, and that 1994 is a wonderful year for everyone.

Merry Christmas!

The background music on this page is the "Hallelujah Chorus" from Handel's Messiah.  While it celebrates Easter, the song is perennially associated with Christmas.