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Who thinks you are special?

As I write this today, the countdown to my favorite day is one week. When I think back to my very first day of school, I remember the excitement of standing at the end of the driveway with my Flintstone lunchbox. I couldn’t wait to get on the big yellow bus and get to my school. Since then, every single “first day” of school has had the same excitement.

For me, school was (is) a magical place. My elementary teachers had strong and wonderfully expressive voices. Each day, after lunch and recess, we were treated to a chapter of a book. Tom Sawyer, Huck Finn, Charlotte’s Web, Old Yeller and where the Red Fern Grows were all books I heard one chapter at a time. My teacher would settle us at our desks, turn off the lights, and we were encouraged to put our heads down while she read one chapter. We always pleaded for one more page. I never wanted that time to end. And to this day, when I get close to the ending of a really good book, I read just a little more slowly because I don’t want my time to end.

While story-time ended in 6th grade, it was replaced with changing classes, new activities, exploratory courses and newfound freedom. It was a time for growing up and becoming more independent. My very favorite 8th grade teacher taught economics. He was a war veteran and it was rumored that he had gone through some terrible battles. His voice wasn’t very strong, but he stood erect and demanded attention. As he explained the fundamentals of economics, he intertwined stories of being in Europe, both during the war and personal travel. He used his war experiences to help us understand supply and demand. Having grown up in the depression, he had real-life examples of how the economy can impact lives. That year, I learned how one person can change a life forever. He made me long to see places I’d never visited. He helped me understand that life isn’t always fair. He encouraged me to follow my dreams. He became my first …   More

Kid at Heart

Maybe I’m a kid at heart but I absolutely love the newest thing to hit Salem, salemindianarocks. For those of you who don’t know, this is similar to a scavenger hunt in where you find and relocate decorated rocks around town, hopefully posting your finds to the salemindianarocks Facebook page.

If you are so inclined, you are also invited to paint and hide your own rocks. I have seen rocks decorated on all spectrums, from near professional renditions to rocks painted with a more abstract approach. All are beautiful and fun to look for.

I noticed the other day that a new form of decorating is trying to get started. It is a quilt design where the rock is divided into squares and as it is found, one square gets decorated thus making it similar to a quilt when all the squares are filled. I’m anxious to find one of those.

I found a rock outside the Leader office the other day and was so excited that I brought it in and shared it with my co-workers. We, of course, took a selfie with the rock that was gold with a heart on one side and a peace sign on the other and posted it to the website.

My son said we looked ridiculous and maybe we did but it was a fun ending to the workday. It was rehid that very evening.

This activity is the brainchild of Crystal Davis and her fiancé, Rowan Brough. They stumbled across the idea while in Louisville. She said finding the rock and rehiding it put a smile on their faces when they were going through a tough time and with all the negativity in the world she wanted a way to put a smile on others’ faces.

I hope that the activity continues and doesn’t slow down. It is truly a fun way to engage not just children but an entire family. The world needs more of that.

What a great activity for kids of all ages, encouraging creativity and getting them outside and being active. Community pride is also prevalent. Lots of people are getting into the act. I invite you to join the fun, if you haven’t already.

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How Salem schools handle disciplinary issues

A brief explanation of how schools approach severe behavior incidents:

If we suspect a student of any criminal activity, we notify police.  The police determine if the actions are unlawful or not. If the action is not unlawful (according to police), we try to determine if the behavior was committed on school grounds, during an offsite school activity or to or from school. If it does, school discipline rules apply.

The only time a school can discipline a student for behavior (including a social media posting) that occurs on their own time is when it disrupts the educational process (if we evacuated the school, went on lock down, etc.) or they are an athlete or in a co-curricular activity (band, choir, club). Disciplinary action is then restricted to that activity because activities are considered a privilege, not a right, and students understand if they misbehave anywhere they can lose a privilege.

If the behavior was committed during school time, as previously described, we would give the student their legal Due Process.  Due Process is basically a guarantee that government is treating students fairly. This means we investigate the situation to gather information and we interview the student and any others who may have information about the incident.  Once that is complete and we have evidence a particular student’s behavior was committed during school time, that person is subject to discipline. In cases involving severe behavior, this means being removed from school.  This is typically a suspension, pending expulsion.  From the expulsion hearing, the hearing officer can expel the student for up to a year, return the student to school under probationary terms or a mixture of those two options.  The outcome of a hearing depends on the specifics of the situation.   More

Pies, Pies, Pies

I'm feeling rebellious, y'all.

And because this is my blog and I can, more or less and within reason, do what I want with it, we're going to deviate a bit from our regular programing, but don't worry — the deviation includes both full recipes (no clicking links!) and pie. Three of them, in fact.

In April, Vanessa of V's Gourmet to Go offered a pie-making class at her shop. I would have expected at least one or two people to sign up, but as it turned out, I was the only one who showed interest. Instead of just canceling it, Vanessa suggested she hold a pie-making class just for me. How do you say no to that?

The pies we decided on were key lime (so perfect for spring), French apple tart (perfect for fall) and a chocolate truffle tart (perfect for always). We started with the key lime. This one was the simplest and probably the quickest one to make.

Ingredients:

CRUST

• 1 and 1/2 cups (150g) graham cracker crumbs

(about 10 full sheet graham crackers)

• 6 Tablespoons (87g) unsalted butter, melted

• 1/3 cup (67g) granulated sugar

FILLING

• 2 cans of condensed milk

• 5 egg yolks

• 1 cup of fresh squeezed key limes

Start with your graham cracker crumbs and mix with melted butter and sugar until it looks like thick, coarse, wet sand. Press this into a dish or pan and slightly up the sides, just like a cheesecake crust. This recipe will fit a standard, 9- or 10-inch pan. Vanessa then took the bottom of a flat measuring cup to make sure the crumbles are tight and compact.

    Then, it's time for the filling, which is probably the easiest of all if you're pretty good at separating egg yolks from whites (if you're not, this gets messy). Vanessa pours the egg into her hands, allowing the white to drain into a bowl placed beneath them. Because I have an aversion to getting slimy stuff all over my hands (or gooey stuff or sticky stuff or … yes, I know, I'm a prissy mess and …   More

See ya next year Alumni Banquet

It’s that time of year again…alumni banquet season. I love this season for the sheer fact of getting together with people whom I may have nothing in common except for the bond of graduating from Salem High School.

I had a great high school experience and I’m sorry for those who did not. I made life lasting friendships and even snagged my husband (even though I didn’t realize it at the time) when he was a mere 15 years old.

This year’s banquet was fun as usual at the “rowdy” table. Years separate those who gather at the back corner table but we still enjoy each other’s company. My group includes fellow 1984 graduates Kelly Newby Coats and Jennifer Weaver Martin and of course, my husband Duane, class of 1985.

Kelly’s sister, Kristy Newby Busher and her group of 1990 graduates usually join us as does her son (noticeably absent this year due to a work commitment in North Dakota) and his friends, her “adopted” children. This year the young ones celebrated their 5-year anniversary of graduating from good ole’ SHS. They were the youngest attendees with the exception of the 2017 classmates and garnered a round of applause from our table. We are trying to instill good alumni banquet etiquette on them.

Also near to the back table are the Hardin siblings, Donna, Linda and Mike. Donna tries to keep order but more often than not finds that a hard task. They were there also this year in support of their nephew, Jared Hardin, who accepted admittance into the alumni association on behalf of the class of 2017. Jared’s dad, Melvin, also class of 1984 and mom, Leann (a West Washington graduate), also came to support their son.

Jamie Richardson, now a celebrity after his stint as emcee during the 2016 alumni banquet, is always in close proximity as was his sister Angie whose daughter is also a member of the 2017 graduating class.

This year I also got to visit with my first boss after college, Mary Kay Fultz. Sometimes the alumni banquet is …   More

Full-fledged nerd

I’ve always considered myself to be nerdy. I’ve written several times about my love of video games, comic books, and Star Wars. Thusly I’ve checked off several boxes to the “nerd list” or things that make one nerdy I guess.

A guilty pleasure of mine when I was a kid was Dragon Ball Z . It’s an anime cartoon that involves lots of fighting and what not. I used to watch it after school everyday and my friends and I would pretend to be the characters from the show on the playground. It’s Japanese of course. When the re-runs are on I will occasionally watch them.

So now I’ve checked off the video games, comic books, Star Wars, and anime from the nerd checklist. That leaves jus one more thing.

Well I finally checked off the last box earlier this year.

The last box on my nerd list was to play the most famous of all nerd games “Dungeons and Dragons.” Well I finally joined a group earlier this year in January and we have just begun a second campaign and I am officially hooked.

My first character was an elf cleric (and now I know I’ve already lost some of you) and I have really enjoyed this play through. To put it simply I can heal, cast magic, and I’m good with sword and shield. So basically my character is everything I like to do when I play similar video games.

It’s really just fun hanging out with people. It’s basically a multiplayer game, but there are no consoles, or TVs. It’s just you, your friends, snacks, and your character sheets. The rest is up to your imagination.

In our second campaign I am a human sorcerer. So I essentially just cast magic spells, but it goes more in the destruction/damage dealing side of things. That makes it pretty fun, so it’s different than my other character, although I haven’t gotten to play with him too much.

I had opportunities to play in school, but never did because of the demands of high school sports and a job. Now I wish I had because I love it. Un thus I am a …   More

Recycle - make a difference

I’m turning caps and lids into a park bench or possibly a picnic table. This is an ongoing recycling project that the Salem High School Science club has taken on and I’m really excited by it.

According to Mr. McCurdy, science teacher and science club sponsor, “Thus far we have diverted about 4 full size pickup truck loads filled to roof level with plastic that has not gone to our landfill.”

I have a special fondness for the science club that I was once president of. I’m excited to be able to give back to the club and help light a fire for students to be community minded.

I try to be a good steward of the land and recycle. I’m not a fanatic about it but I do collect paper and cardboard and deliver it to the local collection site on Joseph Street. I hate it when the tubs get full, especially the paper one because it’s heavy. So admittedly I don’t empty them as often as I should and some paper might get in the trash during these times but I try.

The cardboard collecting, however, has become almost a compulsive behavior. When someone throws a cardboard box into the trash, I instinctively pull it out (if it’s not too gross because I still have some constraints), make it flat and add it to the stack.

I also try to save aluminum cans for a co-worker who also collects the cans from work. I don’t have enough to benefit taking them to a recycling center so I am glad to collect them for him.

The caps have been a recent addition. We drink a lot of milk, use gallons of distilled water for medical purposes in addition to caps from medicine bottles and Bailey’s drink of choice is a bottle of caffeine free diet coke so we have lots of caps from them. Now they are being used to make something new.

I think that is why I’m excited to save caps because there is a tangible product that results from my (our) recycling efforts.

I took my second grocery bag of caps to the high school recently and after checking out the recycled bench in …   More

Memories

A house is just a structure but a home, to me, defines love. I’m not so naïve to know that some people didn’t grow up in a loving home and I’m truly sorry for them. All of my childhood memories were made in one home on Rural Route 4 (now Rudder Road) in Salem and mostly they are of good times.

Being an only child, I spent a lot of time playing by myself but I also had neighbors and cousins that lucky for me were neighbors, too. They filled in the gaps. My dad was also one of my favorite companions.

I remember playing in the basement when I was little while my dad watched TV from the orange vinyl sofa that sat against the paneled wall. (Remember this was the late 60’s – so the sofa was very hip.)

I had a metal kitchen set that a lot of collectors would kill for today and from this kitchen I served my dad many imaginary meals in which he would ooh and awl over. I was, to the best of my knowledge, the best imaginary meal maker he had ever met. He always made me feel like I was the best in everything I did.

I remember putting up the silver metal Christmas tree that featured a color wheel spotlight that added ambiance to the downstairs. Every Christmas Eve he would take me to town to look at Christmas lights while Santa (aka Mother) delivered the presents.

As I got older, my room became my chosen hangout. I had all the necessities; color television with my choice of four or five (on a clear day) TV channels, stereo with a wide variety of 45’s, 8-tracks and albums and a telephone inconveniently connected to the wall with a cord. (At the time, I didn’t know this was an inconvenience – I just stretched the cord, lounged on my bed and talked for hours.)

Most summer days, I had the luxury of having the house to myself while my parents worked. I could get up when I wanted, watch game shows and soap operas (‘cause that’s all that was available on daytime TV) and eat what was available.

If I got tired of being alone and I often did (I …   More

Make a wish flowers are the best

On a recent sunny afternoon, I was outside swinging my youngest in the backyard.

She loves to be outside. She would live out there if we’d let her!

As I was swinging her, she yelled, “Mom! Can you go get that make a wish flower for me please?”

“What?” I asked. “What are you talking about?”

“That make a wish flower, right there!”

I turned around and saw a dandelion sticking up a few feet away.

I smiled really big and said, “Yes, I’d love to get that make a wish flower for you!”

It melted my heart. Why can’t I see the ugly weeds in our yard the way she does? I see them and think, “I need to pick that before the seeds spread and we have them everywhere!”

Of course she promptly closed her eyes and blew hard as soon as it was placed in her hands.

I watched her sweet face as she opened her eyes and watched the seeds drift in the wind.

It was a simple moment, but it’s one I will never forget.   More

Reason for Salem's early dismissal

While there is always a possibility of a tornado when severe weather conditions exist, this is not the reason we, Salem Community Schools, chose to dismiss early today.  The primary reason for early dismissal was the threat of severe thunderstorms close to our normal dismissal and bus route time. 

We do not want buses on the roads with the threat of 60 mph wind gusts, as not every area of Washington County is flat.  We have several routes where our buses navigate roads that are very narrow with not much of a shoulder near ravines.  A combination of rain, hail and wind could spell disaster for a bus on one of these ridges.

We also would like for our teachers, staff, and student drivers to be able to get home and put their cars in the garage or other protective shelter to prevent hail damage to their cars.  That may seem trivial to some, but to our employees and students, I think it is appreciated.

We have one of the largest counties in the state and each school district is a little different in road conditions and terrain. It can be storming or snowing in one part and sunny and dry in another. We all try to make the best decisions we can and I am confident that everyone is focused on what is best for ALL children.

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