One of the best parts of this job is when I have an opportunity to see a group of people experience the news story first-hand, especially when it also provides a chance to learn.
That often comes to events involving some of our local youth.
It is almost impossible for us to make it every event in our coverage area, but we do what we can. That is especially true when it comes to our local schools. Our schools are incredibly active, with a variety of programs, and while we can't make it to everything we do recognize their importance.
For me, though, if there is a chance to showcase some of these activities and programs, both at our schools or in our communities, I definitely like to do what I can.
The last couple of weeks have been full of these types of events and I, for one, am glad to see we have such programs available.
There are many skills kids today need with today's constantly changing world. Whether it is some new computer program or something a little more traditional like writing a check, there are many opportunities to learn.
For those parents out there, I hope if your child has a chance to take part in one of these events, they consider doing so. You never know when the lesson may come in handy.
One of the biggest local events offered to our students is the annual High School Business Symposium, held by the Weirton Area Chamber of Commerce. Now, just as a full admission here, I am on the chamber's board of directors and its education committee, which plans this event; however, I enjoyed covering the program well before I accepted either of those positions.
For those who don't know, the High School Business Symposium provides a day where local high school juniors can get a small taste of the business world at a time when many of them are getting ready to take their steps into it.
They get to see a demonstration of ways to conduct a job interview, for example, to get a better idea of how to dress and act when applying for a position.
They also are put into groups where they have to design a product and come up with a marketing plan.
Each student is expected to dress in business attire, just as many of us would while at work.
This program has seen great growth in recent years, starting primarily with the four West Virginia high schools before eventually expanding to welcoming students in the Steubenville area as well. This year, it grew even more to include students from Burgettstown High.
The last few years, I've only been able to spend about an hour or so at the event, but to see the hard work and enjoyment from these students is always great.
Friday saw another opportunity as students in David Nurmi's American History class at Oak Glen High welcomed two Civil War re-enactors.
These two men spoke to the students about some of the clothing, equipment and food soldiers during that era would have used, and even talked a little about their experiences as re-enactors.
When I was in high school, history was one of my favorite subjects and I was fortunate to have some really great teachers who seemed to bring it to life at times.
One in particular would occasionally bring in actual items from the time period we were studying, or ask experts on the topic to serve as guest lecturers.
I used to enjoy those days, when we got the chance to hold one of those items in our hands, seeing the helmets or the medals with our own eyes.
Friday's demonstration at Oak Glen reminded me of those lessons as the students were able to get a better idea of what some of these items really looked back then.
They were shown hardtack, which was a type of basic cracker usually found in food rations. They also got to see examples of uniforms, tents and other supplies, as well as seeing firearm drills.
I hope the students learned something from all of this and that it sparks their interest to look further into our nation's history.
Of course, in Weirton, one of the most famous is the annual visit to some of the elementary schools by Weir High science teacher Pete Karpyk and his students.
I'm sure there are many out there who don't necessarily have an interest in the sciences, but Karpyk has found a way to get younger kids interested by making the lessons fun for everyone.
These programs have been known for many years, even by students outside of the city of Weirton who have heard about poking pencils through a liquid-filled bag in elementary school or blowing up pumpkins in high school.
Education is important for all of us, and while we certainly should never stop finding new ways to learn, it does help when the lessons can be taught with a little bit of fun.
(Howell, a resident of Colliers, is managing editor of The Weirton Daily Times, and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or followed on Twitter @CHowellWDT)