StephenVance 270Like many shops and offices in the downtown area, our office was invaded on Tuesday – invaded by throngs of children from SVE school who were getting a tour of local businesses to discover what they do and how they do it.

The visits were in conjunction with the Meaford BIA, and while it made for a busy morning, I think it was a fantastic experience for the students as well as for the local business owners who had the opportunity to meet their future customers and clients.

While I had no illusions that a newspaper office would be the highlight of their tour of the downtown (particularly with all of the talk amongst the kids about the availability of cookies somewhere along the tour), it was interesting to hear some of the questions asked, and it was fun to watch the kids marvel at an old Underwood typewriter that we have in the office. “Wow, that's an old printer,” one student said. “What is that?” most kids asked. “That's ancient,” was heard from more than one of the students.

I'm not sure what news dissemination will look like when those schoolchildren are adults – I can only imagine the news will be beamed directly into a chip implanted in the eyeballs or something along those lines, but however news is received 20 or 30 years from now, at least the kids got a small taste of how news has been shared for many generations before them.

Seeing all those kids march through our office reminded me of my own school days. I cared little for math, and I could tolerate art and science, but all I really wanted to do was read and write, write, write. I know I would have loved a school trip to a newspaper office back in those days. Mind you, back then the office would likely have been more than an office, as there would have been a printing press and a distribution warehouse (not to mention half a dozen additional staff) included on the tour. These days however, the big boys like Postmedia and TorStar own virtually all of the printing presses, so small community newspapers, including independents like us must beam our paper electronically to a printer miles away for printing.

Obviously we at The Independent had no cookies to give the children, but we did have a stockpile of little shopping bags that had been made from our newspapers, which proved to be a popular handout and brought smiles to some faces.

Congrats to both the school and the BIA for the initiative – it's out-of-the-class experiences such as this that bring learning and real life together, and that can never be a bad thing.

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