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October 14, 2004

Champions, But In Another Part of Town...

On Tuesday night the Seattle Storm, the local WNBA team, was playing for the league championship, the final game of a best-of-three series (which they won!! !). I wasn't there, however, even though my wife and I have been season ticket holders ever since the Storm came into existence five years ago.

Instead, I had a prior engagement. I was at the Sea-Tac Occupational Skills Center, where I am on the advisory board for the Computer Software Technology program.

Sea-Tac OSC is a Career and Technical Education (CTE) school that is run by four school districts south of Seattle. CTE is the new term for vocational-technical schools; the term "vo-tech" had a negative connotation as a last chance for people who weren't going to college to learn some useful skills; CTE is meant to be a capstone high school experience. Juniors and seniors choose to attend OSC, spending half the there and half the day at their regular high school. Sea-Tac OSC (one of nine Skills Centers in Washington State) has 18 programs, from Fire Fighting and Autobody Technology to Culinary Arts and Dental Assisting to DigiPen Video Game Programming and Computer Network Systems.

I first heard of OSC 3 1/2 years ago, when the instructor of the Computer Software Technology program, Edward Etherington, contacted me after reading an article I wrote and invited me down to give a presentation to the students about working in the computer industry. I did, and found it a very enjoyable (and educational) experience. Edward explained that each program had an advisory committee of people in the respective industries, and invited me to join, starting with the 2001-2002 school year.

The committees meet 3 or 4 times a year. The first meeting is always a kickoff dinner, prepared and served by the Culinary Arts students. Besides the other meetings, I reprise my "working in the software industry" speech once each year, and also go down to help judge a portfolio the students put together to help during job interviews.

This year's kickoff dinner was last night. At about the time I was polishing off my apple cobbler, the Storm were tipping off. And you know, earlier in the day I had been feeling sort-of lame about this. Yes I had made a commitement to go, but how often does a Seattle professional sports team win a championship (every 25 years, evidently). Maybe I should be more self-actualized, and just say "No" to some of these commitements if something better comes along.

But I didn't, and by the end of the meeting I was glad I didn't. Sure it's just being on an advisory committee for a high school program that helps 50 kids learn more about computers. But it's important, especially to those 50 kids. They are really an incredibly diverse group, from hardcore hackers to Photoshop whizzes to kids who only know computers from surfing the net and downloading music (and the students are also much more racially and economically diverse than up here in Microsoft-land). Me being on the advisory committee helps those kids learn, and it helps the program continue, and it helps the school district and the state keep funding the program, and all together that's worth a lot. Even missing the Storm winning a championship.

Anyway, I didn't miss all of it. After the meeting I hopped in my car and zoomed north towards the Seattle Center. As I was pulling off the highway the final buzzer was sounding and the radio announcer was going nuts as the Storm won 74-60. By the time I got to Key Arena, people were leaving and I got a parking spot no problem. I walked into the arena without a ticket (don't know if I was supposed to do this, but I acted like I belonged and nobody said anything), found my wife at her seat, and we spent half an hour enjoying the on-court celebration.

P.S. Championship Celebration Friday at 11:30.

Posted by AdamBa at October 14, 2004 06:38 AM

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First, let me say the article was very well written. It's funny how I found this; my son's girlfriend typed in my full name and this story you wrote about OSC was found by Google. Who would have imagined I was on the Internet.

I also want to applaud you for all your hard work and many presentations on behalf of the students at OSC.

As I read the article I really thought you have a strong passion for helping kids. You have researched the facts and presented it in well organized and thoughtful manner.

Once again, thanks for sacrificing so much for our students. Go Seattle Storm!!!!!!

Edward Etherington
Computer Software Technology Instructor

Posted by: Edward Etherington at November 20, 2004 11:49 AM

I like your artical and I think that it is a good thing that you choose to help the osc program instead of going to the game. I myslef are in the osc class right now in computer software tech (Mr. E had us read this artical) and i would like to thank you for helping the osc program.

Posted by: Tyler at November 23, 2004 08:18 AM