If you remember all that tapping in high school classes, you’re probably old

Do high school teachers still require writing short essays in class? Beats me. And, if they do, how are they written: pen, pencil, computer?

During “my era” we used pencils. Then, when I got into college, the writing-related courses had typewriters: that seemed like a quantum leap, and probably easier for teachers who no longer had to decypher their students’ bad handwriting. Unlike a room filled with laptops, a room filled with Selectric typewriters going at once was rather noisy.

Wikipedia photo

While some students typed like they were trying to poke holes in a pile of clay in art class, I typed fairly fast. Most journalism students did because we all grew up with typewriters. But this isn’t the tapping I’m talking about.

In-class essays were typically about something we purportedly read as homework and were usually a minimum of 150-200 words on subjects like “What was yellow journalism?”

For most students, the word count was more important than the content. So, they’d write a sentence or two and then count the number of words they had. They counted the words by tapping on each word with the point of their pencil. So, it was write, then tap tap tap tap tap, followed sometimes by a sigh when the student realized s/he was lightyears away from the minimum word count.

Naturally, these essays didn’t have a lot of unity, coherence, and emphasis because they kept going until the word count was reached. Finally, after all that tapping and counting up the words, the essay just ended. Most of the essays came back with a lot of red ink that spoke to a lack of organization. I hope NaNoWriMo entries aren’t written this way.

I can’t help but smile when I think about all that pencil-point tapping as students counted and re-counted the words on the page.

On the other hand, some students got to the minimum word count with ease, but ruined the essay by saying “Yellow journalism was caused by a mistake at the ink factory that turned black ink into yellow ink.”


Malcolm R. Campbell is the author of the contemporary fantasy “Sarabande.” The sequel to “The Sun Singer,” “Sarabande is available on Kindle, paperback, hardcover, and audiobook.

Artwork Contest for Annual Glacier Park Pass

from NPS Glacier National Park

This year's pass was submitted by Glacier High School Student Valarie Kittle
This year’s pass was submitted by Glacier High School Student Valarie Kittle

Glacier National Park and the Glacier National Park Conservancy are accepting art submissions from sixth through twelfth grade students for the annual park pass artwork contest. The winning art will be displayed on the 2015 Glacier National Park Annual Park Pass.

Students are encouraged to submit art that focuses on the natural resources protected and preserved in the park. Each entry must include original artwork. Entries will be judged on the use of color, and design and accuracy of a scene that depicts one or more natural resource of the park. The deadline to submit artwork is April 11. Visit the park’s webpage at http://www.nps.gov/glac/forkids/index.htm for more information and an application, or contact the park at 406-888-7800.

The purpose of the annual pass artwork contest is to get students engaged with Glacier National Park, while creating an awareness of stewardship and increase an understanding about resources protected in the park.

The pass featuring the winning artwork will be available in January 2015, and more than 14,000 passes will be issued during the year. The top three winners will receive a gift certificate from the Glacier National Park Conservancy.

Last year Glacier High School Student Valarie Kittle submitted the winning entry. Kittle’s image of the historic Lake McDonald Lodge is highlighted on this year’s annual park pass.

Since some 14,000 of these passes are sold to visitors each year, the winning artwork will have a great audience.

You May Also Like: Glacier National Park Conservancy Announces Grants to Fund Trail Work and More


SeekerCoverMalcolm R. Campbell is the author of fantasy adventure novels set partially in Glacier National Park, including “The Sun Singer,” “Sarabande” and “The Seeker.”

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