Last Wednesday, I accompanied Brian O’Donoghue, chair of the University of Alaska Fairbanks Department of Journalism, to a North Pole High School. He had agreed to meet with seniors who had expressed an interest in studying journalism.

I volunteered to go along. I like speaking with high school students and encouraging them to pursue their interests and dreams.

We exited, rolled past the giant candy cane poles that line the streets and pulled into the parking lot, walking under the red-white-and-blue “Patriot Pride” painted above the main entrance.

The counselor, Jeanne Bolye, hosts a “brown bag” lunch session for students to explore career interests. We expected a dozen students. Three showed.

Sarah Hubbard, Caroline Pollklaesene and Chanda File arrived with their lunches and questions. Sarah mentioned she was preferred commercial photography and had already been accepted to Brooks Institute in California. Caroline was an exchange student from Germany, also interested in photography. Chanda wants to focus on print.

Brian brought brochures and explained the UAF program. He introduced me as the Snedden Chair and explained my career background. Since they expressed an interest in photography, I invited them to attend my speech, “The Cost of Conflict: A Personal Journey” on Feb. 8 at 7 p.m. at Schaible Auditorium on campus.

Chanda asked Brian about his project on the 1997 murder of Josh Hartman and asked a number of questions.

Brian, a former reporter and editor at the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, began investigating the case in the fall of 2001.

With his position at UAF, Brian had the time to look into the case himself. “It’s one of the reasons I took this job,” he said at the time. He has also involved his investigative-reporting students in a painstaking reconstruction of what took place the night of the murder and in the trials. (from “The Hartman Murder Files” on the Extreme Alaska site.”

In the spring of 2004, the staff of Extreme Alaska started creating a website as an in-depth resource for anyone interested in the case. It went online in November of 2004.

The conversation took an unexpected turn when Jeanne mentioned that her nephew is one of the four young men serving time in prison for the murder.

Note: I’ve learned a good lesson. I wrote this blog on Jan. 25. I waited to publish it because I wanted to include photos.  Nearly two weeks later, it was still in the draft queue. I’ve decided to post it and update it with photos. I’ll experiment with this approach anytime I feel my posts are left lingering when I fail to upload images in a timely manner.

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