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Six bosses take the big chairs

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We’ve got two continuing and four new school board chairs around the city after this month’s post-election inaugural meetings.

Sorry, I should have given you some warning, so you could have braced yourself for such astounding news.

Bob Fraser returns as chair in River East Transcona School Division, while the six newcomer trustees in St. James-Assiniboia S.D. stuck with Bruce Chegus to give the board some continuity after four long-time trustees retired and two other incumbents lost their seats Oct. 27.

Suzanne Hrynyk chairs Winnipeg S.D., Dianne Zuk is chairing Pembina Trails school board, and Gary Gervais is at the head of the table in Louis Riel S.D., first time for all of them. Evelyn Myskiw is the chair in Seven Oaks, a job she’s held before.

There — now you’re fully informed, and can so totally impress your colleagues around the water cooler this morning.

Meanwhile....

This has been one of those weekends in which the grumbling and rebukes have been more numerous than usual.

I got an email sent Saturday from someone demanding to know why I wasn’t at that very moment over at the Delta covering the annual meeting of the National Educational Association Of Disabled Students (NEADS). This was from a guest of the hotel who’d come across the conference, not someone associated with the group.

OK, saying I was off probably doesn’t cut it. I work a lot of weekends, and could probably find something to cover every evening and every day and evening off, and whining about skipping the conference for not being scheduled to work on a particular day really doesn’t cut it for some people.

I have no recollection of NEADS having alerted us to its conference or having asked for coverage. And conferences aren’t really as newsworthy as a story of day-to-day activities that talk about the individuals involved. But I’ll keep the group in mind.

Then there’s someone who wants me to cover a conference this week involving 100 high school students from a dozen schools. It’s all about diversity and discrimination and inclusion, featuring a panel discussion in the morning. Sounds interesting, a panel in which high school students talk about their personal experiences... oh, wait, the panelists are all professionals and business people, all adults -- the students are just there to listen.

Oh, well.

And here’s someone who’s read my story on school divisions’ policies on field trips to the controversial Bodies exhibit — you can read it here — and at 2:04 a.m. on Saturday morning sent me an email wanting to know "where the exhibit is taking place, from what time to what time every day, and until when. What’s the entry fees?"

I replied, at a daylight hour, that possibly the person might consider Googling "Bodies Winnipeg" to get the information.

Sigh.

And here’s a note from someone who’d read my story last week on the ongoing situation at U of M over extreme examination anxiety, which included a sampling of the blogosphere:

"I was one of the people quoted from "the blogosphere" in your article today. I would just like to say two things.

"One: You have no idea how awesome it is to have a reputable, real-world organization refer to me by my internet handle. It’s like the pinnacle of a geek victory. Thanks for making my day.

"Two: Unlike on some previous occasions, this quote was *not* taken out of context. I am very appreciative that, in boiling down what I said into one sentence, you did not twist the gist of what I said in any meaningful way. I have had my words twisted by WFP columnists/editors/etc in the past, and I’m always a little apprehensive when things I say are posted in the paper.

"In short, thanks for having integrity!"

OK, ‘eqdw’, I’m glad to have made your day by printing your internet handle in the dead-trees edition.

Now, I’m assuming you’re an adult, and empowered, and educated, and here’s a possibility you may not have considered that may not constitute a geek victory, may not fit into your definition of integrity, and may not fit with whatever perception you have of the real world, if any: when you write something for public consumption, put your name on it, your real name, and take responsibility for your statements instead of hiding behind anonymity.

Harumph.

My best friend and I went to a flick in downtown Toronto when I was there a couple of weeks ago, two 62-year-old codgers walking up to the box office where sat a cashier maybe all of 19. She says, "Two seniors."

I’m thinking we probably looked like those two old grumpy guys in the Canada Trust commercials. Anyway, my friend, who is almost two months younger than I, says that the sign says it’s 65 for seniors, and we don’t qualify.

She says, take the seniors’ tickets, the guy upstairs at the door will look at you and never question you. And he didn’t, though he also didn’t ask if we didn’t think ourselves maybe a few decades too old to understand what The Social Network was all about...

I thought of that seniors’ moment this weekend when I ran for six hours in a 26-hour period, refereeing indoor soccer in a field with boards where the ball rarely went out of play, and the kids ran end-to-end relentlessly, and I was wondering if those two young sedentary theatre staff would like to go running with me sometime.

But we did save a buck apiece on our tickets.

Sigh.

Finally managed to get child the younger on a flight home for Yule. Surely universities aren’t that cramped for physical and timetable space that they have to schedule evening exams on Dec. 22?

In a seamless segue...

I’m beyond even my normal crankiness with the realization that only two episodes of The Tudors remain. Maybe they’ll consider a new series featuring Elizabeth, with a few episodes covering Bloody Mary before we get to my ethnocultural heritage’s greatest monarch, though I’m not anxious to watch the religious hatred actually depicted on screen that Mary unleashed on the populace. Beheadings are one thing, burnings quite another. And no, you don’t want to know what hanging, drawing and quartering actually look like... sorry, were you having breakfast?

The guy I miss this season is Sir Francis Bryan, Henry’s ace rogue, the guy with the eye patch. Like Walsingham in the Elizabethan era, he’s totally amoral in the service of England, but such a watchably appealing villainous good guy.

And on the subject of TV, but on this one not even remotely able to pretend it’s connected to the history curriculum, The Walking Dead has started to grow on me, even though it’s totally derivative of every zombie movie that’s come before. I mean, like, you know, that scene in Atlanta where the two of them make a lurching shuffle for the truck, disguising themselves as zombies in a way it would be disgusting to mention here, Shaun of the Dead did that first, though not quite so gross.

And hiding out in a department store, you know, come on, George A. Romero’s been there, done that, on Dawn of the Dead. Speaking as someone who saw The Night of the Living Dead first run in 1968 at the old Alhambra on Bloor Street across from Honest Ed’s, second-billed to a Barbara Steele Italian vampire film, I do find it refreshing that Deputy Rick is the first person I can recomember in one of these shows who’s shown sorrow for the zombies and recognized that they were once human beings. And like a good nerd, I’m waiting for the survivors to try to get to the Centre for Disease Control, so we can find out how this zombie outbreak started.

OK, I hear you saying that I’m supposed to stick to education topics, not go incoherently rambling all over the place, so here’s your connection to the story I wrote about the U of M grad student who’s doing her master’s thesis on zombies.

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About Nick Martin

Nick Martin is the old bearded guy at the back of the newsroom, the most experienced reporter at the Winnipeg Free Press, having started his career in Ontario in 1971.

He’s been covering education for the Free Press since the spring of 1997, after decades primarily covering municipal politics, including a four-year stint at the Ontario legislature for the London Free Press.

Nick moved to Manitoba in 1988 with his Winnipeg-born wife, who is a professor at the University of Manitoba. They have two kids, both of whom graduated from Grant Park High School: son Chris and daughter Gillian.

Nick has won a national journalism award from the Canadian Association of University Teachers, two Manitoba Human Rights Journalism awards, and the Ontario Reporters Association investigative award.

Nick is a long-distance runner, having finished and survived 18 marathons and 15 half-marathons and 30-kilometre races, and having (barely) survived 10 years as an outdoor and indoor soccer coach.

Nick became a soccer referee in 2007, delighting in his 60s in outrunning 16-year-olds and keeping his distance from obstreperous coaches and parents.

Nick and his wife have discovered a mutual love for kayaking at their Whiteshell cottage, and are both regulars at the Reh-Fit Centre. They hold season tickets to both the Manitoba Theatre Centre and the Warehouse, and as empty nesters, have rediscovered the joys of an active winter vacation.

A native of Jarrow-on-Tyne, England, Nick is a member of the Toon Army as a Newcastle United supporter, and a proud citizen of Leafs Nation.

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