Smiling while boiling and counting blessings

Published 1:33 pm Sunday, February 26, 2012

By CONNIE NOLEN / Community Columnist

Blake Poljacik’s dad said, “She does what to the ink cartridges?”

I’ve been boiling ink cartridges and cautioning kids not to drink the colored water left behind for more than a year. Resembling fruit punch, this water is the result of a trick that’s saved many classroom dollars.

PHS students at the Alabama Scholastic Press Association's State Convention. (Contributed)

Years ago, someone at the county office purchased a new printer and donated their old color ink cartridges to my classroom. These worked beautifully in my old, but functional, printer. Last year, when the cartridges stopped working, my students noticed that these donated cartridges were past their expiration date. Unwilling to waste hundreds of dollars of donated ink, I researched online. Other people had discovered that placing the heads of these ink cartridges in boiling water restored the ink flow.

“What if I donate some printer cartridges?” Mr. Poljacik said to his son – and suddenly, I saw myself – a nutcase with a hot pot. Instead of being grateful for free-flowing ink, I stomped around grumbling about ink stew. Instead of laughing out loud at my students’ wit, I was pouting about rehabbing printer cartridges.

Last week, leaving my classroom and sad attitude behind, my students and I journeyed to the Alabama Scholastic Press Association’s State Convention. Excited to attend computer training, hear great speakers and attend Friday night’s awards’ ceremony, we were rewarded with awesome accolades.

The PHS Literary Magazine won All-Alabama honors and Emily Sansom made school history by winning Best Cover Design for the first time. An AP Art student, Sansom said, “We swept the art!”

PHS sophomore Lora Kral placed first for art published in an Alabama High School Literary Magazine. Second place went to Justin Flores with third place going to Courtney Allen.

PHS also swept feature photos with senior Catherine Schmidt’s photos winning first and second place and Tait Wayland placing third. Others capturing first place honors included Cassidy Clevenger for humor, Sam Ellis for theme development and poetry spread design and sophomore Kathryn Clemmons for her essay.

Another school’s adviser said, “Your kids seem wonderful. They really support each other, don’t they?”

“Yes, PHS kids are incredible,” I said.

Funny, how someone else’s observation clears my vision like brand new contacts. I’m still boiling ink cartridges, for amazingly talented students who support not only each other, but also their teachers. I’m smiling while I’m boiling, and counting my blessings.