When I first began to realize that 1999 might be the year to fulfill this
lifelong ambition, I began to do some internet research to find out if
people had posted trip journals on the net. It didn't take long to realize
that, in fact, they not only posted journals, but that some of them maintained
websites right from the road as they travelled.
I thought, "This is cool. I'd like to do that, too."
At this point I approached my Principal, Mr.
Fritz Wildermuth. He was very receptive to the idea and volunteered the idea of using district webspace for the site. However, we ended up using a commercial server (see About this Site for details) so that we could have our own domain name, route99.org.
I spent the better part of a Saturday creating my route
across America. It went through sixteen states and one hundred ten counties
(every try to read all the counties on a Rand McNally atlas?). If I added
the ten or so national parks and the several major cities and a few other
distractions, I would have just about my number of U.S. History students
for the year. Perfect: every student gets an assignment. We'll make this the semester research project. Big points. (How do I grade
My three first semester classes would research every county between San Francisco and Chicago. My two second semester classes would research Chicago to Plymouth, Massachusetts.
And here are the stars of our show:
First Semester, 1st Period U.S. History
First Semester, 3rd Period U.S. History
First Semester, 7th Period U.S. History
Second Semester, 7th Period US History
(Pennsylvania-New Jersey-New York-Connecticut-Rhode Island-Massachusetts)
Second Semester, 8th Period US History
Beautiful, aren't they?
Initially I planned on just having the students do the research. Matt Marengo (see below) would do all the websites. Then I had a chance conversation with Ray Butkus, our DGN Mac Master, about what I was doing. He suggested having each student make their own website. I said, "We can do that?" He said, "Heck,yeah!" (We are getting technologized so quickly in our district, the information can't keep up.)
Another great twist to the project. Each student would be able to inject his/her own personality into the project, and learn a very valuable skill.
Problem: I didn't have my conversation with Ray until three weeks before Christmas break. The project due date was Christmas break. My wife took her classes to the computer lab first and broke the ground with them. Then I took mine in, severely underestimating the amount of time it would take for 85 rookies to create 85 websites. It was the blind leading the blind. We put together a 'Netscape Composer' handout; step-by-step through the process.
Here's our lab:
This is Shandra. She just found out that her semester project disk worth 120 points has NOTHING on it!
Oh, the nightmares. Computers crashed, disks were
lost, links went dead, the end of the semester loomed. Somehow or other,
and in differing degrees, the job got done. And we were still...
A key person in this whole venture is our most excellent webmaster, Mr. Matt Marengo. Matt is a senior at
North, a National Merit Finalist, a member of our boys' volleyball
team, and most importantly for this site, fantastic with the computer. Matt agreed to put all the pieces of this
I knew next to nothing at the start of this adventure, so I can't begin to tell you how important he has been to its success. (He is open to receiving offers that would result in large sums of money.) His ability to read my mind has made my job easy. All I have to do is tell him my idea for a page, and he makes it look better than the picture I had in my mind.
Judge for yourself.