It's a couple of hours or so before sunset. My car is parked by Bemidji High School on a Monday evening.
Looking around, I see only a few vehicles are parked near the front door. The rest of the parking lot is empty.
Who the heck goes to school in the middle of summer on a Monday night?
I found out. Me, school administrators, and the board of education directors for Bemidji Area Schools District.
I was given the beat of education reporter for the Bemidji Pioneer newspaper. Now I get the "scoop" on what goes on at school.
Are magic tricks performed to solve school problems? How many hoops does your taxpayer money have to soar through? You may be as curious to know as I am.
Because education is my beat, I figured I had best find out more about it. So, I attend school board meetings, hear stuff, record it and jot down notes.
In the process, I find out school board members are ordinary people like you and me who are elected to answer tough questions. And they do so beyond their daily jobs and home lives.
After attending a meeting, I head for the office to write about it. The next morning, you wake up and read about education and the money that supports it, who said what and why, and most importantly, how the students are doing.
I grew up in La Crescent, a community of 5,000 located in the most southeastern corner of the state. I now live 375 miles north and a guaranteed 20 degrees cooler. La Crescent's claim to fame is apples - drinking, crunching, and devouring them - as part of the Applefest hoopla celebrated every year during the third weekend of September.
I came to Bemidji with my eyes wide open, and I liked what I saw. A playground for outdoor enthusiasts like myself. I also saw the variety of choices people have for education - three charter schools, two private schools, home schooling, three colleges and all the related support services.
You might be asking yourself, "Do I have the experience, stamina and guts for this job?" Stay tuned, you'll find out.
One thing I've learned so far: Those men and women you elected to serve on the school board are working hard to solve problems under difficult conditions. But don't take my word for it. Come on over, attend a Monday evening school board meeting.
I look forward to receiving your e-mails, phone calls or letters letting me know how I'm doing. But, even better, tell me what I don't know. Let me know about a student and his or her project, someone's long-held dream of a degree or about a former resident accomplishing beyond expectation.
While living in Bemidji, I expect to learn much. My job is to make your homework easier. While I seek the facts and interpret the details for your morning read, you sit back and enjoy the story.
If you agree or disagree with the story, write to the editor. Let's hear your new ideas of educating the youth, handling taxpayer money, and recognizing remarkable students.
I have been welcomed into the community and I'm looking forward to meeting more of you. Tell me who you are and a little bit about yourself. Or - you'll just have to hear more about apples.