A Weekly Column
by Mary Wilson
Mary Wilson, editor of the Jackson County Advocate newspaper, grew up in the Grandview community. She currently serves as President of Grandview Main Street and works as a development coordinator for the Grandview Education Foundation. She also serves on the Missouri Press Board of Directors and the Kansas City Press Club Board of Directors. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
May 10, 2018
"If you weren't the editor of the paper, and you could have done anything else with your life, what would you be doing?"
That’s the question that one little third-grade boy at Conn-West Elementary School in Grandview asked of me last week. I visited his class to talk about what I do and how I do it. I shared with third graders about covering the fire on Main Street a few years ago, and what it’s like to focus on the job I have in front of me and worry about my emotions later.
“How many of you have read a newspaper before?” I asked them. Nearly every hand in the room was raised. “How many of you have ever read the Jackson County Advocate before?” I asked. Only a handful of hands remained in the air. When I informed the students that would change that day, as I had brought a copy for each of them, you would have thought the pages were made of candy. “You mean we get to keep this?” one little girl asked me quietly. “Absolutely you do,” I answered as she beamed up at me with a toothless grin.
I can happily talk about my job with pretty much anyone, but when I have the opportunity to share my work with children, I get just as excited as they do. I love their questions. A lot of them asked me if I saw this car accident, or heard of this shooting. It amazed me how aware these third graders were of what goes on in their community, on their streets, and the impact events clearly have on their lives.
“Did you write about the kid who was killed while riding in the car with his dad a few months ago?” a small but obviously mighty boy asked me. “I sure did, and writing it broke my heart,” I answered him. “That was my cousin; we’re the same age,” he said. I squeezed this little boy and told him how sorry I was that that had happened to his family. It reminded me that news sometimes hits close to home, no matter how old you are.
I answered the first boy’s question. If I could be doing anything else, I’d still be writing. If money were no object, I’d travel the world and write other people’s stories. Having people open up to me about their passions, their heartaches, their families and their work, and then writing about it, is what I love doing. Everyone has a story to tell, no matter how old they are, where they come from, or what they thought they’d be doing with their lives.
Thank you, Conn-West third graders, for spending some time with me last week. And, thank you for your kind letters. To Savion, who says he wants to be a news writer just like me when he grows up, I hope you become one. And when you do, come see me and I’ll have a job waiting for you.
“Same question for you,” I asked that little boy. “If you could be anything at all when you grow up, what would you be?” I thought he’d say the President, or a teacher, or maybe even a firefighter. Suddenly, I was brought right back into the mind of a third grader with his response. “I think I’d be a wrestler,” he said.
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