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Yesterday I told you about Mr. Clark, my seventh grade math teacher. He was pretty awesome. Today, I’ll tell you about Rudy Del Rio. Well, he was really Mr. Del Rio and I called him that all the time but with other students, he was Rudy. And when talking about him to students, he was Rudy. I think he got a kick out of the students that called him Rudy. He would kind of “half laugh” when anyone did that. He was a good guy. He taught Civics to the seniors but I was lucky enough to have him for four years of Journalism. He taught me a lot. He inspired.

And up until about five or so years ago, I was still in touch with him even though I graduated from high school in 1974. I still have his email address and I know he lives in Bend, Oregon. I just haven’t had occasion to contact him although I’m thinking I might do so the next time we go to Bend. I think I’ll email him and see if I can have a cup of coffee with him…or more likely a beer because Bend is home to some really good breweries!

I remember him walking into a classroom, always easy going but once in awhile he would have something serious to talk to us about so he would walk in…all five foot zero inches of him…and for some reason, his goatee which made him look super cool on most days, would make him look somber…my mom said he looked evil…and we could do nothing but pay attention and hope it was not one of us that had gotten him upset! Not a big man in stature, he was respected.

I don’t think I would be who I am today if it were not for Rudy Del Rio!

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When I was in high school, I took journalism. I had been on the school newspaper staff in middle school and I knew I wanted to be on the school newspaper staff in high school. However, at the high school you couldn’t just be on staff. First you had to take a year of journalism then you could be on staff. My freshman year I signed up for the required Journalism I class and found out I was the only freshman in the class. I stuck with the class through learning to write effective lead paragraphs, including the Five W’s, writing clear headlines, interviewing techniques, research, and a whole lot more. I truly loved everything about journalism.

My sophomore year, I was finally on the newspaper staff (the Cardinal Tribune). I loved chasing down stories and our faculty adviser took us to some events that we could write about for the paper. I remember going to see William F. Buckley, Jr. at the campus of San Jose State (front row seats, no less) and I also attended a dinner where Sen. Edward M. Kennedy was speaking. Those are two I remember quite well. We also were encouraged to see movies at the theater and review them for the newspaper. Sports events at school were also high on the list. It became a great way to get out of the house because my parents were very strict and rarely let us go any place so if I said I had to cover something for the newspaper, we could go!

My junior year, I was the Sports Page Editor! I mostly assigned stories and read them and handed them back to the writer to rewrite them when necessary. I wasn’t then, nor am I now, into sports so I felt it was better to leave the writing to others. I did attend football and basketball games and an occasional track meet but I mostly did not write about the sport. I would write about the fans, the spirit squad, the fan, and the experience of attending the game. I did cover one sport, though. I had a friend on the wrestling team, Manny Alvarado, who asked me one day why the newspaper never sent a reporter to cover wrestling matches. I quipped that if his team started winning, I would start sending a reporter to matches. So Manny said to me, “Come to my match and I’ll pin my man!” So I went. And he did! After that, I always covered the wrestling team!

By the time I got to my senior year, I was the only person in the history of the school (okay, it was a relatively new school, I was in the sixth graduating class) that had ever taken Journalism all four years. By then, I was going with our adviser to proof read the newspaper at the print shop the afternoon it was printed. We would find all the errors, fix them, and give our OK then that night the paper would be printed and then delivered to our school by noon the next day so we could distribute it during sixth period.

Journalism class and the newspaper staff were probably what taught me more than any other class during high school. I learned not only the newspaper business, but I learned how to look at things from different angles to get the best story. I learned how to ask questions and listen to the answers. I learned how to approach people and experiences that I might not normally have approached. I learned how to take direction and how to give it. I learned how to take criticism and how to give it. I learned how to take responsibility for my deadlines, for my articles, and for my decisions. It was a wonderful eye opener for me. The friends I made in Journalism and on the school newspaper, are still friends now, some forty years later.

Journalism had a lot to do with who I am now and for that, I will never forget (Journalism) Room 609, Mr. Del Rio (our faculty adviser), or the Cardinal Tribune.

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