Wednesday, March 17, 2004

Tom O'Sullivan died Friday morning.
I don't know if anyone from Lamar reads this blog. If so, they know who Tom O'Sullivan was and the impact he had on that city. He founded O'Sullivan Industries 40 years ago and made it into one of the biggest employers in southwest Missouri and the lifeblood of Lamar.
On a more personal note, he was always a big supporter of mine while I was at the Lamar Democrat and The Carthage Press. He also owned several apartments and rental houses in Lamar. For six years, I lived above the Lamar Library in one of his apartments. I found out later that I was the only one of his tenants who did not have a lease and that I was paying a lower amount of rent than his other tenants. I guess he knew how Doug Davis paid his employees.
He will be missed, but at least he will have the opportunity to be reunited with two of his daughters, both of whom left this world far too soon.
It has been a couple of weeks since my 12th birthday, but I can't let it go without writing about it. It was a wonderful experience and apparently, the celebration is continuing.
On Sunday, Feb. 29, I was pretty much overwhelmed with birthday greetings. I received e-mails from my first girlfriend (from ages six to eight) Jacki Williams, plus two of my eighth graders from last year, Shane Gallagher and Lydia O'Donnell, and a College Heights junior who was one of my students the first two years I taught, Samantha Young. After a small celebration at my parents' house, I returned to my apartment in Carthage and found 12 cupcakes and a stuffed tiger (to add to my collection of 21 stuffed animals given to me by my students) courtesy of two more of last year's eighth grade class, Leanne Ross and LeAnn Dardenne. I had birthday messages on my answering machine from Leanne and LeAnn, Alyssa Simpson, and Alyssa's mother, Alison Simpson.
As I surfed the Internet that night, I was honored to find that my birthday was prominently mentioned in blogs written by two of my eighth graders from last year, Alicia Bradley and Michelle Nickolaisen. And I received an e-mail from a woman from Lamar, Yvonne Haile, who also has a Leap Day birthday and became a teenager this year (multiplied by four, of course).
The next day at South, I received a card signed by all of the students in my advanced communication arts class. It didn't stop there. On Tuesday, as I was taking my morning block class through the book fair, I received a bouquet of balloons and some candy kisses, a really sweet present from two of my seventh graders from last year, Stephanie Taylor and Kaci Scribner.
And this week, two weeks after my birthday, the attention continued, much to my astonishment. I received an e-card from a former co-worker at The Democrat, Mary Lou Teel. (She had sent me a birthday e-mail earlier, but she came across a Leap Day card she couldn't resist.) And my advanced CA class, led by Jessica Johnson and Kristin Haddad, gave me another card, and the present which Kristin, who kept forgetting to bring it, had kept safe for me at her home since before my birthday.
I really don't know what I did to deserve all of this, but it really makes me feel blessed.
Spring break came at a good time. Students and teachers alike needed to recharge their batteries. Since I'm out of money and payday isn't until tomorrow, I will probably spend today working on I am putting a picture page on, updating the birthdays, maybe adding some links and putting some assignments for next week on. I will also be adding the first of the news stories written by my advanced communication arts class. They have been working hard. I have some great students.
My first writing contest at South is underway. I don't know how many classes will be participating besides mine, but I know Mrs. Chew has her eighth graders doing the work. I am hoping we have a ton of entries from sixth and seventh graders.
I will need to line up some judges next week. The prizes are the same as I had during my four years running the contest at Diamond. The school is footing the bill, which will come to $100.