Fast action saves a life

1 Aug

Here is a story I got to share with our district family, then I posted it to our district Facebook page. My daughter, Hannah, works with Adam at Washington Elementary and has remarked several times about what a positive influence he is for the students and staff members.


We have to share a big shout-out to Washington Elementary Security Officer Adam Archibeque for his quick action in the face of a tragedy.

As his family was returning from a vacation in Florida, they came upon an accident scene on a highway in Tennessee. Adam and his father, Paul, stopped their vehicle and went to check on the SUV involved in the wreck. After flipping multiple times, the vehicle had stopped on its side, driver side on the pavement. Adam borrowed a knife from someone at the scene and entered the back of the vehicle, freeing a young boy and an infant who was still strapped properly into its car seat.
He moved to the front of the SUV where an adult was unresponsive, had no pulse and had suffered a head wound. Adam cut the man free from his seat belt and with help carefully removed him from the vehicle. Adam performed CPR on the man for 2 to 3 minutes, when the man began breathing on his own; Adam stayed with the man, applying pressure to the head wound until medical personnel arrived on scene
Adam’s quick action likely saved the man’s life. Sadly, another adult was ejected from the vehicle and died at the scene. Adam credited his law enforcement first responder training for preparing him to help out.
“I have no doubt that each of our district security officers would have done the exact same thing if they had come upon that scene,” he said.

Necessary yet nauseating

27 Jul

The weather was perfect and everyone was in position. As my boss and I prepared to leave the junior high campus for the command center, two shots rang out. We knew they were coming but we still flinched, because you just cannot be prepared for that sound, not in that venue.

Our local first responders and school district last week joined to stage an active shooter training exercise. It provided an opportunity for area police, sheriff’s deputies, firefighters, EMTs, school district administrators and others to work through a realistic scenario that everyone hopes remains as far from reality as possible. We conduct these large-scale drills annually now, along with districtwide lockdown drills during the school year.

School district personnel volunteered to portray victims in the scenario, and afterward a couple told me they thought all staff members should take part to give them a sense of how such a horrific experience could play out. In the “hot wash” recap immediately following the exercise, the law enforcement expert who played the shooter said the addition of armed security officers in each of our buildings “is the best decision Sedalia 200 has ever made.” His praise made me proud of our dedication to student and staff safety and sad that the scenario and armed guards have become necessary.

At the end of the week, I worked with an assistant superintendent and our school resource officer on a video detailing lockdown procedures for our subs.

This is where we are. We practice reacting to unconscionable horror and pray that we’ll make the right decisions should evil show up on our doorstep. It’s nauseating, but we don’t have a choice. We must prepare and hope we never have to put any of this into action.

PR: Positively Rejuvenated

17 Jul


As we drove to Kansas City International Airport before dawn on Sunday, my wife, Melany, asked if I was excited about my trip to DC for the 2019 National School Public Relations Association seminar. My reply surprised her.

“I’m not sure,” I said. “I’ve got a lot in my head right now. I’m not really confident that I know what I’m doing. I keep relying on my old-school journalism skills and there is so much more I need to learn and do to be effective.”

I’m an old dog (almost 30 years in professional newsrooms) who is still working on and struggling a bit with that new tricks thing. I’m a one-person communications department for a school district of 5,000+ students; I also teach high school journalism and serve as the advisor for the school newspaper.

Over the past few years I have picked up some skills and stolen ideas from my Missouri School Public Relations Association friends, but as I have seen the excellent, meaningful work being created by my MOSPRA peers and the incredibly talented pros across NSPRA, I have started to feel like a bit of a poser. I lost confidence in my work and started to become intimidated by the knowledge, skills and abilities of the school PR pros who I admire.

I’ve used this analogy before, but “The Blues Brothers” is my favorite movie so I’m rolling with it: Once I got to DC, I started to have that Joliet Jake moment in the church, when he is bathed in bright light and understands his mission and purpose. My friend Ray introduced me to someone new to MOSPRA, heaping praise on my skills and willingness to lend a hand in times of crisis or confusion. Pat from MarketVolt encouraged me to write a blog on school PR issues. Another friend congratulated me on earning NSPRA Golden Achievement recognition for one of my projects.

I started to realize that while I certainly have a lot to learn, I am not an empty vessel. As the seminar proceeded, I engaged with past acquaintances and new connections. I learned from peers and shared a few of my own tricks. I regained my confidence and became energized to do and be better.

On Monday night at the #K12PRChat Tweetup, I was surprised when my name was called  as the winner of the #ComebackKid award, signifying that the chat leaders had noted my absence from the conversation before jumping back in this spring. I love the chat, the way it brings us together and how it provides a positive, learning atmosphere no matter your level of proficiency. There are so many brilliant minds contributing that I didn’t think my absence would be noticed. Pretty happy I was wrong about that.

So now that little wooden hashtag is my reminder that my school PR family will always be there to provide inspiration and encouragement, that even if workloads and life issues pull us away we always can come back, and that at the end of the day our work is about doing what is best for kids.

Thanks, NSPRA fam — See you in St. Louis.

The Human Touch

3 Jan

people facing each other illustration designConversations today with a couple of co-workers served as reminders that while our jobs pay the bills, human connections provide our purpose.

The first chat found a friend and I exchanging stories about family members’ health issues and how they put dampers on our holiday seasons. It wasn’t a “woe is me” exchange, but rather an acknowledgement that as both we and our elders grow older, milestones such as traditional holidays hold more meaning. It also was a chance for us to swap stories about our children – parents like nothing more than a chance to brag about their kids’ most recent episode of awesomeness.

The other conversation was more of a vent session. This co-worker has spent the past few months feeling like their inspiration had evaporated and frustration had set in.  This is a dynamic, effective teacher who (my opinion) has taken on a few too many projects because no one wants to be the “No” guy. He aired some of his concerns with an administrator earlier in the day, so the session with me seemed like more of a pressure release. This teacher just needed another ear, and I was more than happy to listen and then offer a couple of observations. I was pleased that he got a laugh out of a brief story I shared, and when classes start again Monday I will check back in to see how he’s doing.

Sometimes, the best gifts we can give to our friends are an open ear, a closed mouth and an understanding heart.

Humble brag time (again)

2 Jul

Bob Satnan won Gold Awards from the Kansas City Press Club for news columns, non-news columns and arts & entertainment writing.

The Kansas City Press Club recently announced the winners of its 2017 Heart of America Awards and I was again fortunate to have my work for the Sedalia Democrat recognized. For the fourth consecutive year, I received the Gold Award in both the News Column and Arts & Entertainment Reporting categories for daily papers with circulation less than 30,000. I also received the Gold Award for the second straight year in the Non-News Column category.

As shown in the photo, the entertainment story that was recognized was my profile of World League Wrestling star Kyle Roberts. My news column entry included a piece on how the public contributes to media bias; the category judge commented, “Thoughtful and well-written analyses on timely, relevant topics.”

A column on men’s attitudes toward sexual harassment was included in my non-news column entry. The judge wrote: “The writer has a wonderful conversational style and economy with words … poignant and memorable. The second column (dealing with sexual manipulation) is extremely well written and presented, in addition to being relevant and timely. In short, that column matters to all readers.”

I’m fortunate that the Democrat continues to make space for my work each week, and I appreciate the acknowledgements from the KC Press Club. I also extend my congratulations to the Democrat’s Nicole Cooke, Hope Lecchi, Faith Bemiss and Alex Agueros, who also received awards.

More than sports

23 Jun


The past 48 hours have been a bit of a whirlwind for Chicago sports fans like me.

The Chicago Bulls traded legit superstar Jimmy Butler for a collection of younger, somewhat questionable guys and the chance to move up a few spots in the NBA Draft to take a 7-footer who doesn’t seem to play defense. I hate to see Butler go, but since the Bulls moved him I hope they can shed themselves of Dwyane Wade and Rajon Rondo, too — if you’re going to rebuild, go all in.

The Blackhawks just traded one of my favorite players, defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson, to Arizona for a couple of younger, physical defensemen, and rising star Artemi Panarin to Columbus for former Hawk Brandon Saad. While it is tough to see important players from your team traded away, the realities of the salary cap dictate changes. I do believe these moves are positive ones for the Hawks, who still have an excellent core to pursue the Stanley Cup for the next few years.

And this morning, as a lead-up to his number being retired, former White Sox pitcher Mark Buehrle posted a really fun piece on The Players’ Tribune that in essence is a thank-you note to Sox fans. Buehrle is my second favorite Sox player of all time, just behind Harold Baines. The Sox have retired both of their numbers (Baines 3, Buehrle 56) which says more about how much owner Jerry Reinsdorf admires them than their actual accomplishments. That is not to take anything away from Buehrle especially, but the timing does come off as a bit of, “Hey, we have been really awful for the past few years so here’s a bone to remind you of when we didn’t suck.”

What this all reminds me of is that for many of us, sports and the athletes who play them are a great diversion that can provide a real sense of community. Sharing thoughts on the Blackhawks trades this morning connected me with former co-workers and high school classmates who share my fandom for the team. And over time, I have learned not to invest so much emotion into teams, games and players.

Now, about this new Bears quarterback

Humble brag time

12 Jul

To say I was overwhelmed by my showing in the Kansas City Press Club’s Heart of America Awards would be a hefty understatement. I’m grateful that The Sedalia Democrat still provides space for my writing. This is the first year that I won both column categories but receiving the Gold Award for my profile of LaTonya Marshall was most rewarding. I’m so thankful she allowed me to share her story of determination and dedication to her boys.Congrats to everyone at the Democrat on their KC Press honors – all are well-deserved.

‘No really means no’

1 Jul

We’re well into 2016, yet some men still have the mindset of Og the caveman.

As reported by Jaya Saxena on, two publications this week ran pieces about how men can turn “No” into “Yes” in regard to sexual advances toward women. In Men’s Fitness, writer Nick Savoy offered that he would “share some proprietary techniques for turning a ‘no’ into a ‘yes’: 1) at the bar, 2) on a date, 3) in bed, and 4) in a relationship.”

As Saxena reported: “In the article, (Savoy) outlines how to ignore a woman’s boundaries, which is basically summarized by his first tip: Plow ahead anyway.” Men’s Fitness rightly took some harsh criticism for the piece, which it has removed from its website.

The other article, in Complex, discusses how people can move from the “friend zone” into a relationship with the object of their desire. In essence, writer Trace William Cohen leverages a piece in Psychology Today to contend that if you act like a friend, that is how the other person will always see you. I didn’t find Cohen’s piece to be as noxious as Savoy’s, but its message still came across as, “How to get what you want just because you want it.”

I shared Saxena’s report with Lori Haney, executive director of Citizens Against Spouse Abuse, and she was as repulsed by the Men’s Fitness and Complex pieces as I was.

“Rape is rape. No really means no,” Haney said. “As an advocate, it is that black-and-white of an issue. It’s not about coercing somebody – they have not given you their consent. No means no.”

Savoy’s “plow ahead anyway” mindset is especially troubling.

“What kind of message are we sending to men? That you don’t have to respect somebody else’s personal boundaries?” she said. “At the very least it is disrespectful; you are coercing somebody into something they are not comfortable with. At the most heinous, they have not given you their consent and to press on is rape.”

Cohen opens his piece saying being relegated to friendship is the worst place to be on Earth. It is an immature view of male-female relationships, and frankly it comes across as arrogant. Haney found it sadly common due to the gender roles our society has assigned to men and women.

“It is so unfair to both men and women that we as a society train women that they are supposed to accept and appreciate men’s advances, that there is some sort of obligation if a guy likes you … he’s the conqueror and I’m the one to be conquered,” she said. “As a person I am entitled to be attracted to whom I choose to be attracted to, and I am entitled to say, ‘No,’ when I want to. Just because you are attracted to me … I am not obligated to reciprocate.”

A lot of these issues are tied to the inability to handle rejection. Just because someone declines your request for a date or other romantic advances does not make you a lesser person; you become a lesser person when you react with bullying behavior or profane name-calling. We need to teach young people of both genders that being told “No” is not a sign of personal failure.

“Rejection hurts for everybody … but rejection is a part of life,” Haney said. “If we are not expected to learn how to cope and deal with that we are not whole people, we are not well-grounded, healthy human beings.”

The “plow ahead, get what you want” mindset of the Men’s Health and Complex articles only compounds the problem.

“I think that kind of writing, that kind of belief is actually very insulting to men,” Haney said. “We as human beings should be expected to exercise self-control. When you put that kind of writing out there for men, I think it insults their intelligence. The whole ‘rape culture’ mantra – that is what this is.”


“We’re all all right”

20 Jun

My wife, Melany and I attended the Cheap Trick concert June 18 at Starlight Theatre in Kansas City. It was a long-awaited and much-deserved date night, and despite the downpour that drenched us about three songs in, the show and venue both were spectacular. 

Cheap Trick’s still got it – they rocked all their memorable hits and the crowd ate it up. I really enjoyed “The Flame,” “She’s Tight” and “Ain’t That A Shame,” but the best moment of the night was watching two pairs of fathers and their pre-teen daughters singing, “Mommy’s all right, Daddy’s all right” to each other during “Surrender.”

It was a great night of music by a band that should be in the Rock ‘N Roll Hall of Fame, shared with my best buddy. Yes, we’re all all right.

Rage overboard

4 Mar

I wrote a commentary this past week for the Sedalia Democrat that took a light-hearted poke at the over-abundance of high school sports teams in our area that are nicknamed Tigers. I came up with new mascots for all but the school system where I am employed (protect your house, right?). Shame on me, but I got one school’s colors wrong in my piece. I admit I should have done a better, more thorough job of fact-checking. But the reaction by some readers went beyond the realm of ridiculous. Comments ranged from “no one cares what you write” (but they obviously took the time to read it) to calling me a “judgmental bully” after I apologized for my error and corrected the column. Another moaned, “Was there nothing newsworthy to print?”

I am in no way dismissing my responsibility to get facts right. But the self-important and egregious reaction was a little much, especially the person who smeared me after I admitted and apologized for my error. What is really disappointing is that I have made it a point to promote fundraisers for the recreation center for the community in question. I’ll keep helping that cause because I know the people involved with it appreciate my work and understand that we all make mistakes at times. I just hope the haters become enlightened to an adage about stones and glass houses.