You may notice that three stories in this issue bear the byline of freelancer Steve Wartenberg. He's contributed a Finale about a recurring dilemma with some geese and two department profiles (the leader of an agency on the frontlines of the unemployment battle and a master roaster at Krema Nut Company).

The range of stories reflects Steve's versatility, and, as an editor, it's comforting to know you can count on a writer to deliver the goods no matter the assignment.

Steve began to write for us in 2007 after he arrived in Columbus to work as the adviser to the Ohio State student newspaper, the Lantern, following a career as a reporter in the Philadelphia area. We parted ways when Steve took a job as a business writer for the Dispatch. He survived the big newsroom cut in the spring of 2009, but then left to pursue a freelancing career early this year. His decision brought him back to us. Get used to seeing his byline.

By the way, his first story for Columbus Monthly was on ultra athletes, including a few guys who ride their bikes insanely long distances. As it turns out, Steve has become one of those guys. He's been obsessed with biking since riding across Europe in 1990, and on May 1 he'll participate in an event that will call on him to pedal a bike for 12 straight hours.

No, he's doing this voluntarily.

Putting together our "Single in the city" package is no easy feat. It starts with assistant editor Taylor Swope working her contacts to come up with candidates, selecting a diverse and interesting list and conducting interviews.

Then came coordinating all the photo shoots, including the one for our cover in front of the mural based on "American Gothic" in the Short North. There were a lot of moving parts, from aligning the schedules not only of the 10 singles, but also those of the photographer, Michael A. Foley of Rycus Assoc., and the makeup artist, Tim Maurer of Mukha.

We'd also like to thank Kathryn Flynn of Kathryn Gallery for the use of her space (see the photo for the opener of the story). I'd also like to credit the owner of the blue bike that's displayed on the cover, but I have no idea who it belongs to. It was parked by the tree when design director Craig Rusnak and I scouted locations and, sure enough, it was there again when we showed up for the shoot. So, to whoever you are, thanks.

After all that work, no wonder the staff is looking forward to the Single in the City Party presented by Columbus Monthly and Eddie Merlot's at the Polaris-area restaurant on May 3 from 6 to 8 pm. For details, see columbusmonthy.com and page 91.

You could call middle school the Lost Years. As associate editor Dave Ghose explains in his story, "Building a better middle school," those three years between elementary and high school are when too many students unplug. Dave has examined this problem by, in part, focusing on a charter school that so far appears to have found a solution.

Speaking of education . . . a few months ago I received an e-mail from Jason Blair, an art instructor at a Dublin elementary school. He made a strong case for the importance of arts education in a time of budget cutbacks. Although there are arguments to be made on either side of this topic, I feel compelled to share part of his message:

"We are preparing our students today for jobs that don't even exist yet. This widely known fact in the education world means that educators should be focusing on teaching students not what to think, but how to think. Art is not about how talented or creative you are, it is about the right-brain thinking process students are engaged in that is typically ignored throughout the left-brain dominated school subjects of the traditional day."