The Wide Angle: Help a North Carolinian learn about our state

Published 6:42 am Saturday, April 13, 2019

It should come as no surprise to people that know me that I like to talk and relate stories. And if you’re a weekly reader of this column, then the 24 or so of you that I have accumulated by now (watch out Dave Barry) will recognize that I talk a lot about my life or something I’ve witnessed.

It’s not me being conceited, because I’m really a boring individual that just happens to know a lot of absurd things that sometimes make for good stories.

Okay fine, stories that are at least interesting enough that let you fill 10 minutes of your Saturday morning that would otherwise be wasted with trivial things like bill-paying or talking to your family.

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See? I’m really a pretty humble guy.

But this time around doesn’t have anything to do with me, but rather the state of Minnesota, our role in promoting it and a fourth-grade student from Charlotte Latin School in Charlotte, North Carolina, who is working on a school project.

A while back, I received a letter from Kate Hull requesting items from Minnesota that might help her tell the state’s story.

In the letter, it was asked to run this request in our Letters to the Editor portion of our Insight page.

This was an easy task and we were more than willing to help Kate out with this project as Minnesota is a great state. Also, I know that the people in Austin have more than a little information to relate, not only about our own town but our little portion of the state.

But the more I thought about it, the more I decided I wanted to catch up with Kate personally to find out a couple questions of my own, so I contacted her teacher Katie Smith to arrange an interview over the phone with the fourth-grader to get an idea of what she was looking for and where she was in the project.

So we arranged a time through Smith and after some fumbling over time zones on my end, unexpected scheduling on Smith’s end, an errant transfer to another teacher’s class, (consequently another teacher with the first name Kate), we got things squared away and I got my chance to talk to Hull.

Also, I talked to a lot of people named Kate or Katie in the same building in a relatively short timespan. That’s kind of outside the realm of coincidence.

Plus, the woman taking my numerous calls at the front desk of the school, whose name I don’t think I ever learned, might start sending me Christmas cards. We talked a lot and might have become family.

If there is one thing I have learned over the years through these interactions and interactions with my own family living in North Carolina is that North Carolinians, on average, are really friendly people.

But I digress.

Finally, on Wednesday morning I was able to touch base with Hull and Smith and got the chance to get to know the fourth-grader a little more and find out what she’s hoping to learn from this project.

The energetic Hull quickly went through some of the details of the project and was excited to relate some of those details including a video she will make explaining to those watching what she learned about our great state.

At the time we talked, Hull told me that she has gotten feedback after the original letter ran on March 30.

“I’ve gotten four pieces of mail,” she said. “One of the boxes I got Spam (items), pens and pencils and in one of them I got newspapers and magazines and in another I got more newspapers and magazines.”

And already she’s learned a lot about what we are about here.

“I learned that they actually have 10,000 lakes, that Spam is really big there, you have lots of museums and the Mall of America,” Hull said.

It’s that last thing that caught Hull’s attention, and should she ever get the chance to check out our state, that building with all of its stores and attractions has a great big target on it.

“Part of the project is to pick a place where we would visit and I want to go to the Mall of America because it’s so big and they have so many stores and rollercoasters,” Hull said.

By the time this column runs, Hull will be just over two weeks to the deadline of April 30 for receiving items and while the original items, she asked for in her letter to the editor still stand, like postcards, maps, pictures, general information or any other items you might have, there are still some specific things she’s looking for, including some of our popular animals.

This is a fun project and I wish I had gotten the opportunity to do something like this when I was Hull’s age.

To actually work with people from other states is a perfect way to learn in my opinion. Granted, I’m not a teacher (as the people of Austin breathe a sigh of relief), but it seems to me that getting students to actively be part of what they are studying helps them retain it.

So if you’ve got some time and are willing to help Ms. Hull out, I’m including the address with this story. Send her whatever you think makes Austin and Minnesota great.

We have a lot of great things to offer, so let’s share and see if we can’t be part of Hull’s A-plus project.

Tell her I sent ya.

Help spread the fun 

Send items care of Kate Hull to:

Mr. McConaughy’s Class
Charlotte Latin School
9502 Providence Road
Charlotte, NC 28277