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DEAR READER: Battle High School's opening is historic moment for Columbia

Friday, May 31, 2013 | 5:34 p.m. CDT; updated 12:55 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Dear Reader,

On Monday, summer school begins for Columbia Public Schools. What once was solely remedial has now become a destination for ambitious students and for children exploring areas less traveled during the regular school year.

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Monday also marks the first steps for Columbia’s newest high school.

It’s a big deal. Battle’s opening changes attendance zones, ends junior highs in Columbia and creates even more demand for residential and commercial growth in the northeast part of town. Its cost, nearly $76 million, could pay for construction of more than six Short Street garages or five new MU softball complexes.

Of more impact: High schools tend to become centers of civic life. Local resident Michael Fernandez really captured that idea when he said in a recent article: “This portion of town didn’t really have an identity before. This is something that can bring us all together, even if just for Friday night football games."

Fernandez will be teaching government and sociology at Battle High School. His own children will be Spartans. “What better way is there to have a great school,” he said in a QnA, “than to be a part of building it?”

His story was one of almost 50 in a special Missourian report. More than four months in the making, “Dawn Breaks on Battle High” was an effort to reflect a major event in the long timeline of Columbia.

There were video interviews with administrators and coaches; charts showing demographics on the student body; photos of the construction; and reflections of the school’s namesake, Muriel Williams Battle.

For the first time at the Missourian, the content was produced in four ways.

On May 22, the Missourian published most of the articles on columbiamissourian.com, free to non-members for the first 24 hours.

  • A print edition overview of Battle’s impact to the northeast region ran in print the next day.
  • The content was redesigned for a PDF e-book available to Missourian members. It included links to make moving among sections easier to navigate.
  • The e-book became the core for a 70-page, 8½ x 11 color glossy book printed through the University Bookstore (which, as of Wednesday, is now “The Mizzou Store.” I just can’t bring myself to use that name yet.) The first copies arrived Thursday. A book like this gives a certain weight, a kind of gravitas, appropriate to the event. It sells for $14.95.
  • Finally, a special edition is awaiting approval on the iTunes store now. It will sell for $1.99. Among other things, this edition does what print can’t by embedding those videos within the design and optimizing reading for a tablet.

I don’t know when the Apple folks will give the OK. Publishing through iTunes has been a learning experience. The first attempt was rejected, I’m told, because it used an “i” word, as in “this Missourian iBook.”

The edition was produced using iBooks Author, a design and publishing app. (The Missourian’s lead tablet designer, Elizabeth Conner, gets married this weekend, by the way. Congratulations, Elizabeth.)

Working on all four, mostly simultaneously, required a little juggling and a whole lot of talk among production editors. I’m still holding my breath, but so far there haven’t been any train wrecks.

Monday is just the first day for Battle High. I imagine summer school is like the shakedown cruise of a new aircraft carrier, where the question is what, not whether, anything will need to be fixed, adjusted or replaced.

The Missourian will be there to witness and record its first steps.

Click here for links to read the special section in all formats.

Tom


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