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The Homepage of Alan Cook

I was born in southern Ohio at the Chillicothe (Ohio) Hospital. I was raised in Waverly, Ohio (about 20 miles south of Chillicothe). I attended Kindergarten at East Elementary, grades 1-8 at North Elementary and graduated from Waverly High School in 1986. is a free service to stay in touch with others that you went to school with or graduated with you from elementary, middle, high school and college. Teachers can also register as staff at buildings where you have taught.

Here are some of my hobbies and interests:

Chillicothe Paints

I do not think that I could pass for a baseball fan, but I do enjoy going to watch the games. I probably enjoy the Paints games so much because there are so many friends, students and former students who come out to cheer on the Paints.

Chillicothe High School Band

Chillicothe High School Band's Disney World Trip in April 2001 (click on the band for close up image)

When I was in high school, I followed in my father's footsteps and played the piccolo in the Waverly HS Marching Band. After my sophomore year, my band director, Mr. Ed Collins, left Waverly for another teaching position. Band changed with a new band director and I made the decision to no longer participate in band.

Many years later, I came to Chillicothe to teach and discovered that my former band director, Mr. Ed Collins, was the middle school band teacher and assistant director for the high school band. At the same time, a good friend and fellow teacher, Cathy Jayne, took on the position of flags and auxillary director for the Chillicothe band. She encouraged me to help out as a chaperone and ride with the band to away games.When I began teaching in Chillicothe, Mr. Collins was still the assistant band director and Mr. Mossbarger was the band director. My friend and fellow teacher at Smith MS, Cathy Jayne, became the flags and auxillary director and encouraged me to join her on away games as a bus chaperone. Since I knew many of the students from teaching at both Smith and Mt. Logan, I was an ideal chaperone and h Helping out with the band brought back many good memories of high school band and it was fun to see so many of my former students who were now in the band.

In 1999, Miss Natalie Steele became the new band director and was assisted by Mr. Joel Heckethorn. The next year, Cathy Jayne left the band and was replaced by Stephanie Malone and assisted by Mrs. Davies. I continued to assist the band as a volunteer and traveled with the band to Florida in April of 2001 when they performed at MGM Studios.

In 2001, Mrs. Scott became the band director and I continue to volunteer as an adult with the band. In 2003, Joel Heckethorn left for another music teaching position at Grove City, Ohio.

Chip and Dale with some of the CHS band members

2001 CHS drum line

2002 CHS drum line

Photography & Slide Shows

Slide shows have been a fascination of mine since I was a young teen. In scouting, slide shows were used to promote summer camp and later became a part of the closing program each week at our local summer camp. The slide show production became something that everyone wanted to help with because it was such a cool part of camp. The staff members who created the slide show each year, week after week, were very protective and limited who could work on this project. You had to be asked to become involved in this team and often many felt that they were excluded and kept from having any input.

There is a mystery and excitement that comes from sitting in the campfire ring on Friday night at camp and seeing the show come to life before your eyes. Several years later when I had become one of the central figures in putting together the slide show, I realized how much I missed that surprise and how guarding the production is actually essential to making the show a success.

KnockOff Incorporated

Bruce Knox and Jeff Wyckoff combined parts of their last names to form the name of their slide show company...and shows would start with a slide that had this name along with an eagle and a booming voice would announce, "Knockoff Incorporated, a subsidiary of Big Screen Productions, proudly presents...". Later, when Chris Vaughan and Bill McKell became deeply involved in the production, their names were added to the company title and it became, "McVon Knockoff". The company developed into almost two different parts. Those that took the pictures and those that organized the slides and music together into the show. Photographers had the glory of walking around camp with cameras taking pictures while the production staff were the masters at working behind the scenes and selecting which slides would go into the final production.

When I became a staff member, I noticed that others were asked to help out but what I didn't realize was that it depended upon someone's position at camp and their availability to move around freely. Potential photographers would be given one or two rolls of film and then their ability would be evaluated and determine whether they would be asked to continue to take pictures. Those that proved themselves would be given more and more film each time, but no one photographer took more than 3 or 4 rolls each week.

The production side was more difficult because this was where the magic was created by placing slides with the most emotional impact at critical points in the was more sacred and It could get crowded around the slide show editor and nothing was worse than having someone looking over your shoulder while you were working. The slide show was the highlight of the week for many campers and troops, so making sure that it all came together was critical. From the outside, putting together the slide show looked like a lot of fun, but it was more stressful than you can imagine.

My involvement in the slide show began in 1986 when I was asked to help take pictures for a camporee slide show produced by the company near Dayton. I was trained during the camporee how to use a camera (an old, manual focus Minolta XLR). Bill McKell asked me, "Have you ever taken a photography class?" and I was a bit hesitant to answer because I really had no formal training. Too many photography students were trained to take "artistic" photos, he explained, and they would teach me how to take photos for the slide show. He talked about how the ideal photo looked like a Norman Rockwell painting or like those in the Boy Scout Handbook. That would become my goal and I followed him around most of the day in the rain looking for good shots.

I had been recruited since the following summer at camp I was going to be the first aider. This position would allow me to walk around camp during the day and take pictures. I was still only given a maximum of two rolls of film each week, but I must have passed the test because I was given more and more responsibility in the company. Since I really didn't know how to operate a camera, I went out in February and bought a fully automatic camera (a Minolta Maxxum 7000, 50mm lens, and a Tokina 70-210mm zoom lens) so that I could practice and become more familiar with using a camera.

Within a year or two, I had become more and more involved in taking pictures. During the summer of 1997, Bruce Knox removed himself from the slide show company over a dispute with the music selection. This prompted a change in the company's name and I was honored to have my last name in the title, "McVon Cookoff".

During the summer of 1991, camp underwent one of its darkest times. The council executive, Dick Horn, replaced the camp's administration with a camp director and program director from outside the council. The camp's program and reputation was saved by several young staff who worked to pull things together and keep the "spirit of friendship". Seth Stark stepped up to help pull the slide show together will help from Dave Rogers. Their names were added to the company the next year as "Daveth McVon Cookoff". I returned to camp staff in 1992 and continued to work with the slide show until 1994.

Knowing the deep emotional impact that our slide shows have on the scouts, leaders, and staff at camp, I realized after a year of teaching that this was something that could very strongly benefit the school where I was teaching and I regretted not putting together a slide show my first year of teaching. At the beginning of the next school year, I made a personal commitment to take slides all year and produce an end of the school year slide show for the students and staff. This would be the first time that I'd been in charge of everything...photographer and producer. The show went over with much success.

When I was hired in Chillicothe, I immediately realized that making a slide show while working at both schools was going to be next to impossible. Even after the first year I felt that this was something that I was being called to produce, but because two shows would require a huge investment in time, I decided that it would be unfair to give one school a priority over the other and thus choose not to do either. After the second year, it was apparent that Mt. Logan students had similar needs to those students at Clark Middle School. I approached the principal at Mt. Logan and tried to explain what I wanted to put together and asked for his support. 1996-1997 was the first year of the slide show at Mt. Logan and 1998-1999 was the first year for both Smith and Mt. Logan end of the year slide shows. With God, all things are possible!

Since those days, I have upgraded and am using Minolta Maxxum 8000i and 800si bodies. My collection of lens has expanded to include these zoom lens: Tamron 28-80mm, 28-300mm, and a 200-400mm.

Despite the proliferation of digital cameras, I was hesitant to make the jump to this new technology because of the lack of clarity in the digital images and the compromise in quality with video projectors. In the spring of 2001, I received a digital camera (a FujiPix 5700) from an educational workshop. The images were very detailed and I was hooked on the new technology. It was easy to push the images to the web or email pictures to friends.

In August 2001, I began working at Horizon Technology and had access to video production software and equipment. Minolta had just released a 5 megapixel camera with a 28-210mm lens, the Dimage 7. This seemed like the ideal camera and with the addition of a 1 gB microdrive and a 5600 flash I was ready to attempt to produce the annual slideshow using digital equipment. The schools liked this change mostly because students could also take pictures without much investment risk and saving on the overall developing.

I continued to take pictures with my SLR, especially for sports where the digital camera just wasn't fast enough or capable of capturing the action. I felt like I was using my old Maxxum 700 and would need to rely on prediction and struggled with poor autofocus.

In August 2002, I purchased a Nikon D100, along with a 28-70mm and Sigma 28-300 lens. This DSLR has a 6 megapixel resolution and is the first digital camera that feels like I've got my old SLR back in my hands. The autofocus is fast enough to take sports pictures and I've entirely converted to digital by 2002-2003. The slide show itself it put together using Final Cut Pro on a Macintosh and burned onto DVD. All of my SLR equipment was traded to Cassidy Hall, a member of Disipleship bible study, who graduated from Paint Valley HS in 2003 and is going into photography. Her work is outstanding and I'm looking forward to seeing what she goes on to produce.

Former students at a football game taken with the Nikon D100

A good starting place for learning how to put together slide shows is on Steve Traudt's webpage.

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This page was last updated Mon, May 18, 2009
©1999 Alan W. Cook (contents)
©1999 John Ringloff (design/layout, used with permission)