Morning Star editor Parker Crook dons his gloves and throws a jab to the camera. (Roger Knox/Morning Star)

At Random: The clock doth tick

Vernon Morning Star reporter turned editor says goodbye

Paalam, hyvästi, auf wiedersehen, goodbye.

Regardless of in which language or how many times I type it, writing the words “until next time” feels surreal.

In truth, I have delayed putting pen to paper in favour of the other daily occurrences: press releases, work-appropriate funnies, phone calls.

But, as the clock doth tick – its hour hand within grasp of the end – I knew it was time. I had to say goodbye.

I’ve worn many hats throughout my two years at The Morning Star from the nervous and excited toque of the summer student to the fedora of the editor. True, they were worn in part to hide my balding (now bald) dome, but it’s what those hats represent that will stick with me through the years.

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It all started two years ago, March 17, 2017. After six hours in a stifling box, I pulled up to the substantial warehouse-chic grey building. The Morning Star, read the sign posted on the arch above the glass doorway.

Night had fallen and it was late in the evening, so all of the people who then, and some who still do, called The Morning Star home had gone for the day.

Looking at the wooden arches the weekend before beginning a one-month unpaid practicum placement, I would have never thought that these bricks would become my home.

Tiny, white, porcelain coffee cup in hand, Glenn Mitchell – to whom I owe the successes of my career – led me through the office and introduced me to everyone: Roger Knox, Richard Rolke, Lisa Vandervelde, Kevin Mitchell, Kristin Froneman, Katherine Mortimer and Jennifer Smith.

Froneman was my first mentor. She taught me everything I now know about the North Okanagan arts community. While I certainly didn’t do it as well as she did, I made it my goal to uphold the standards she set.

From Kevin Mitchell, I learned (and subsequently forgot) how to write tight. I learned more about writing as a pseudo-sports reporter under Kevin than I did in two years in school. The man’s a gifted writer, incredible coach, and all-around good friend.

Mortimer, in a similar vein to Mitchell, helped clean up my copy. None has ever been so gifted as Morty at catching misplaced commas and dangling participles. Morty, I apologize for the grammatical errors woven throughout this column.

Vandervelde, the amazing photographer she is (seriously, she has a handful of awards left sitting at the office) helped me hone my photo chops.

From Rolke: speed. The man churns out more copy than any human should. While Knox is a close-second, Rolke is a workhouse of unparalleled stature. He’s the kind of man who lifts the proverbial car from off of his team.

Speaking of Knox, whom I should roast due to the goodbye speech he gave while I wrote this column, he was also a mentor. I wish he wasn’t so I could use this space to hurl insults, but from Knox, I gained my news sense, though it will never be as keen as his.

In Smith, I gained a walking friend and beer buddy. Beyond that, though, Smith taught me the importance of community – not only as a journalist but as a person. From Smith, I began to fully understand the importance of this thing we call community journalism.

Other reporters and editors have come and gone throughout the past two years: the vibrant Erin Christie, the ever-sneezing Brieanna Charlebois and, the man who taught me how to lead, John White.

While White was only with the team a short while, he actively revived the newspaper and the journalists who fill its pages. I rarely understood his Simpsons references, but he was an incredible boss nonetheless.

Charlebois, she’s OK. Actually, she’s more than OK – she’s one of the most educated and intelligent people on the streets of Vernon. She has a bright future ahead of her in the world of journalism. Keep an eye on her – she will be one to change the world of journalism. However, don’t tell her I said so.

Beyond the confines of the newsroom, the connections have been too numerous and too marvelous to recount. I will miss you all.

As the clock ticks ever closer to the end, the reality of my situation begins to sink in.

While I may be leaving this gray building behind, I bring with me the lessons of all my former mentors. But, more importantly, I leave with an army, a community, a family.

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