Seven Years Ago…..

Seven years ago,  I woke up on the last Saturday of winter break with a bad back ache.  It was early in the morning and I couldn’t remember what I had done to cause me this amount of pain.  A little later, I woke up my wife to look for a heating pad.  It wasn’t getting any better and she offered to take me to the emergency room. I wasn’t going to the emergency room only to remember that I had moved something heavy and was paying the consequences for it now.   We decided to wait until the minor med opened a few hours later.

We were waiting for the minor med to open. After a quick check up, I found out I had kidney stones.  A few days later, I had the first of 6 procedures to remove my kidney stone. This began what was my worst six weeks of work of my career.  I was basically absent from winter break to spring break.  I didn’t miss as many days as you would think.  Through a combination of snow days,  a holiday, half days and a field trip, I managed to only miss about half the days.

I had every excuse I needed to not go on the field trip.  First I had a stent from all of my procedures. This made me extremely uncomfortable unless I was laying flat or standing  straight up.  Second I was taking pain medication.  I was suppose to drive but for the first 2 reasons I was unable to drive.  Finally I was always recovering from the previous week procedures.

Even with all of these factors I had to go on the field trip. This was a trip to attend the Student Television National Conference.   One of my students was picked to be a presenter at the closing ceremony.  I also did not realize my kidney stone would last that long and hoped it would be over with before the conference.

I don’t know why my doctor agreed, but he gave me a week off to recover.  He put me on different prescription so I could drive.  He also gave me his phone number so that he could help me remove my stent if I had trouble.  That would have never of happened because I could only imagine the cleaning lady finding me passed out on the floor.

So we packed two cars and we drove to Orlando for the conference.  On the way, we took a side trip to visit Full Sail for a tour and took a picture with this cow.  I don’t remember much about the conference. Luckily there was another chaperone who helped me out with the students so I spent a lot of trip in my room.  I know we attended a professional training on how to edit and competed in a contest.

 

 

The trip home was miserable.  We left in plenty of time to get home before dark and stopped a huge McDonalds.  1937245_1275902216670_3911158_n

When we were about a 100 miles from home.  I had a flat, but I was in no condition to change it.  So my students put on the spare.  If this had been just me, I would have finished the trip on the spare.  Since I had students I had to make a stop to see about getting a new tire.   The tire center at the Walmart was closed.  Luckily one of the workers was still there.  The manager took pity on us and changed the tire. After purchasing a  new tire, 5 hour energy drinks, glow sticks and having impromptu dance party, we made it home after midnight.

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Despite all the problems getting there and back, I consider the trip a success.  The next year I took a larger group to California which included many of the same students.  With the knowledge they gained at the conference my media program really took off the next year. The students from that trip provided the leadership for the program for the next 3 years.  Everyone on that trip has studied or continued in media in some way.  I don’t know that I would take a trip under these circumstances again, but I am glad we all had the experience.

 

 

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It Started 13 years ago

In the fall of 2003, I went to check my box for a check on a Friday afternoon.  When I got there I found out that my purchase order had not be approved.  I was trying to buy a DSLR camera to take pictures of homecoming the next week. My class was going to sell candid pictures to raise money to take a trip in the spring.  At the time you could get digital photos developed for less then a quarter.

At the time my wife was in law school and our money was tight.  I didn’t know what to do but I had a best buy credit card.  I purchased a Canon Digital Rebel for a little over a thousand dollars.   I am not sure how many photos we took that week or sold but we raised enough to get us started.  A few months later, I took my first school field trip.

We attended the first ever Student Television Network Convention at Universal City in California.  I wasn’t very prepared, because I had only taken students to sporting events before then.  I knew we wanted to go see a film studio and visit the walk of stars.   We left Memphis after spending the whole day at school.  The students met me at the airport and soon we were on our way.  I debated on transportation.  I knew that we could catch a shuttle to our hotel and that we weren’t far from all of the attractions.  We got there LAX was over whelming.  When I added the number of students we had and the cost of the shuttle, I decided the rent a van.  At the time, no one had GPS so I a student with a map.  The van was big enough for all of us but I hadn’t considered luggage.  We managed to squeeze into the van and fight the late night traffic to the hotel.

We showed up at the very nice hotel where according to the students I announced  “We don’t need no valet” in my best southern accent.  As soon,  we got to the front door  we were swarmed with students wanting to interview us.  There were students everywhere.IMG_1590

The order of events is kind of a blur now, but here are the highlights. We went to Warner Brothers students where  Martin Sheen wished us “Happy New Year”, we saw the sets of the Gilmore Girls, West Wing and ER.  We sat in on a rehearsal of the the Drew Carey show and Drew Carey spoke to my students during a break.  We kept the students busy all day for the entire trip.  Group shot

The conference was amazing.  IMG_1435There was standing room only in some of the presentations.  My student competed in several contests and toured the campus of USC. IMG_1595 We skipped a social event one night and were able to get into a taping of the show 2 and Half Men.  The music video contest ran extremely late.   My students were editing late into the night in a different time zone.   They were delirious by the time the contest was over but they finished.  IMG_1474

The conference ended on good note with one of my students placing 3rd in a contest.

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After the conference ended, we went to Hollywood Blvd to the walk of stars.  I made my students bring cameras and put together news stories about Hollywood.   IMG_1660We loaded the van on Sunday morning made a quick trip to beach before catching a plane home.

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When my students made it back to school they were excited to tell there friends all about the trip.  The next year, I took twice as many students.   I have been back to California for the conference 5 times.  The trip was a recruiting tool for my class and really helped me to grow my program.  I took over 400 photos on that trip that I still have on my computer, not bad for 4 day trip.
IMG_9468.jpgI am still in touch with most of the students from my trip.  A few of them studied film or journalism in college.  My last trip to STN,  I went at the last minute to Orlando because my students had a video that was being shown there.  I took a break one afternoon to visit one of student from my first trip, who is working at the happiest place on earth.  IMG_9507

I am not going to say that taking students to the STN convention is better then Disney World, but as far as school trips go it is the best substitute.