I don’t remember when I wrote my first column. I sent a sample to then editor Denny Bonavita and was given the opportunity to allow my random thoughts to grace the pages of Tri-County Sunday the first Sunday of every month. It was with sadness that I write that this will be my last column for this paper.

I have really enjoyed writing this column. You don’t often get an opportunity to sound off on so many topics and have more than just a few people to share your thoughts with.

I have watched presidents come and go. I agreed with some and disagreed with others but that’s the way of things. At least I was able to put my agreements and disagreements in some kind of cohesive manner and feel a sense a catharsis after I was done.

I tackled a lot of different topics that I felt I needed to tackle at the time. Of course, to be honest, sometimes those topics were tackled because I was facing a deadline.

There were a lot of nights I would sit staring at my computer screen trying to decide if I had anything to say. That bit of advice also came from Denny. He told me you write because you have something to say. Apparently, I have had a lot to say since the Clinton administration.

It was also a personal journey that I chronicled. I wrote about my children growing up and going off on their own paths. Over the past few years, I have also had the opportunity to write about my grandchildren.

It hasn’t always been easy. I wrote about my Mom shortly after she died and did the same for my Dad. Not an easy thing to do in 800 to 1000 words with a lifetime of memories flooding my mind.

I wrote a lot about education, something near to my heart since I was a teacher for 25 years. Looking back, I noticed how I kept track of the changes that came and went with a singular thought in mind – it should always be about the kids and what’s best for them. Trust me, some of the things I wanted to write about (but couldn’t because of my position in the district) were not what was best for the kids or the communities in which they lived.

I also wrote a lot about my beloved (and sometimes only tolerated) Pittsburgh Pirates. I trudged through the 20 losing seasons and reveled in the brief years of glory. After last couple of seasons, I still think I can make money off Pirates jerseys that have only Velcro on the back. You can then purchase a name of player and his number and stick them on. Once they begin dumpling salary for the next season, you simply take the name and numbers off and start again. It could work.

I also noticed how my football fandom waned to almost nothing over the years. The only reason I pay attention now is because I run a fantasy football team (poorly I might add). The overwhelming evidence of what happens to young men who play the sport has turned me off.

As with some things in education, there were a number of items I decided not to tackle. They simply were too controversial. I also had to keep in mind I was the pastor of a local church. Be that as it may, I got my share of hate emails and letter-to-the-editor comments, which comes with the territory. Again quoting Denny the Wise, the reactions let you know people are reading your column.

The future for me is not silence. I will continue putting my ideas out there, but in a different way. It’s exciting, actually. Suffice it to say I will still have ideas to share and the freedom to share them whenever they strike.

So, in a sense, this is not good bye, but it is the last time I will be coming to you this way on a Sunday morning. I hope over the years I was able to entertain. More importantly, I hope I was able to make you think. You didn’t have to agree with me. I just wanted you to consider other ideas and possibilities. This column was an extension of what I believed as an educator – the most important skill I could give my students was the ability to critically think for themselves.

So this is it. Thank you for letting me share my random thoughts one Sunday a month for more years than I care to count. It has been a wonderful journey.

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