McKaela Larson and Tony Breaux are featured this week.

Toni Grove's News Broadcasting class at Crookston High School covers news reporting in both print and video media. Juniors and seniors in the class produce weekly news broadcasts for the CHS student body, publish the Pirate Pride newsletter and submit articles to the Crookston Daily Times, which are published periodically.

What is Volunteerism?

By: McKaela Larson

Four years ago my mom, my sister, and I went on a cruise to the Western Caribbean. It was a wonderful vacation, but it opened my eyes in so many ways. One of our stops was to the country of Honduras. We docked and came off the boat and started walking around the area. It was very surreal because the area around the dock was very touristy and what you'd expect while on vacation. But when you walk a little further into the town you feel like you're in a completely different country. The place we suddenly experienced was so impoverished it was heartbreaking. We had been walking by the stands people had set up along this dirt road for the tourists and a little girl, around the age of six or seven, walked up to me with dozens of bracelets up her arms. I asked her how much the bracelets were and she said that they were a dollar. These bracelets were obviously handmade and very nice, but I wasn't interested in the bracelets, but in the girl selling them. She was so small, had no shoes and her clothes were worn. I bought three of her bracelets. When I gave her the money, she was so happy and thanked me. She ran away to her mom who was at one of the stands. I immediately started crying over this girl. It broke my heart that she lived in these conditions, and I wanted to do something to help. It had such an impact on me, and I started to see the world in such a different perspective. I felt like before I had been oblivious to peoples' struggles in the world and it awakened me to how I should strive to help in anyway I could. The dictionary states volunteerism is "the policy or practice of volunteering one's time or talents for charitable, educational, or other worthwhile activities, especially in one's community." Volunteerism is one thing to define but another to put in action. I think it's a pretty accurate definition of the word, but volunteerism is definitely not just a word, it's a lifestyle.

To me volunteerism is a huge part of a community and shouldn't just be practiced at big fundraisers or planned events, but also by every citizen living in the area in small kindnesses. In our schools, workplaces, and public areas there are infinite opportunities to volunteer. I also volunteer in the traditional way as much as possible washing windows with my soccer team, packing food boxes, and being a part of my churches vacation bible school as well as the worship team. I babysit, help with Feed My Starving Children, bag food with my choir, help at my churches Christmas store for children, and walk in Relay for Life. However, I wish the smaller things were included in the definition of volunteering such as opening a door, having a conversation with someone who's down, or walking an elderly citizen across a street. All those examples of volunteering demonstrate taking time and showing the talent of being empathetic, courteous, and helpful. These actions fit the definition of volunteerism but are definitely not as noticed by others as much as they are by the person they affect. These small acts can affect a community just as much as a big event can, but it takes many people to join in the same way.

I believe one of the reasons I see volunteering in this way is due to the people in my life that have had an impact on me. There are many, but I think the two people that have always been a huge rock for me are my grandparents on my mom's side. They are wonderful people, and I hope I can become half the person they are. One reason is because they adopted my mom, and I think that's one of the most selfless things people can do. They are amazing individuals. My grandmother is a very interesting woman and has so many quirks that my family and I often get comic relief from her. She's so full of life and so wise. I can go to her with any question or problem and she'll have advice and the perfect words to calm me down. Whenever my family and I are struggling, she knows how to mediate the situation and be a rational person to relieve the tension. There is nothing she can't do with chocolate chips or a Bundt pan. My grandmother shows her generosity and spirit with her baked goods. People request them for Christmas and birthdays. However, this has always been one of my grandmother's ways of sharing and volunteering. She is always donating baked goods to church, fundraisers, and families that are ill or grieving. One of the things that makes this so amazing is these aren't just any cookies. The time, effort, and love she puts into these cookies are considerable. They are perfect cookies and she spends so much time to make sure they are the best cookies she can make, even though she's giving them away.

My grandfather is the funniest guy I've ever met and is so awesome in every way. He's such a kid in many ways, like how he'll go to Valley Fair with my sister and me and be just as excited to ride the rollercoasters as we are! My grandpa proudly wears his Pirate gear even in the Twin Cities where they live. There is really no substitute knowing someone out there is cheering for you even when you can't see them. There's also another side to him as well. He's so strong and can handle everything going on in our family. He's very calm and has an easy-going nature so you never feel like you're bothering him, even when he's teaching you how to parallel park for the fifteenth time. He is always fixing things for my family and for neighbors without a single complaint. He's the rock of our family and even through his cancer he held us together when we were falling apart over him. It was very difficult for him physically and emotionally, but he never complained and never stopped thinking about his family first and foremost. The thing I love is these people are average ordinary people. You don't see them in the news or heading up food drives and fundraisers, but they use their specific talents to help everyone around them all the time without question. They are just such wonderful people I've been blessed to have them as my grandparents, and I try to live the way they have shown me.

In so many ways I feel as though I can't change the world and help as much as I want, but what I've learned is there isn't a certain type of volunteer. Everyone has different qualities in which they can contribute. I feel the qualities I have are that I'm a positive person, and my experience in Honduras showed me that my compassion and heart drives me to help in any way I can and as much as possible. My talent is that I want to give everything I have to volunteer. I might not have specific qualities but my main quality is that I am a helper at heart. In little and big ways, any contribution is a contribution when it comes to volunteering. The definition states using one's time and talents in a worthwhile way. Volunteerism is now a huge part of my life, and as I further my education I can get the knowledge and specific expertise to enhance the gifts I already have and give in different ways. Like my grandparents I hope to continue to volunteer throughout my life without the expectation of reward or credit, just to help with kindness and selflessness in the community and set a standard of a citizen who cares.

The "Oldies"

By: Tony Breaux

What do you think of when you hear the word "oldies" in reference to music? What era do you think of? Maybe the 1960s, when fans were screaming for the Beatles or the 1970s and 1980s, when people were dancing to disco. I think of the oldies as music from around the 1960s and 1970s. This is when there wasn't that much technology to change your voice. It's when the truly talented artists shined, like Percy Sledge, the Beatles, Rod Stewart, and others. Now there are so-called artists that sound great in the studio, but horrible in person.

Whether it's disco music you like or the old country music, or maybe even opera, in my opinion, the "oldies" is when music was at it greatest. There wasn't all the technology to edit a person's voice back in the 1960s and 1970s, so you would hear the person's true voice when singing. You could then determine if you liked them. Nowadays, people may sound different on the radio than they do at a concert. The difference between the two is that the radio plays the song that was recorded in a studio where they can use technology to change the way it sounds. At a concert they don't have the technology to do all of that.

For example, listen to Ray Charles. He is an exceptional singer as well as piano player. Maybe you like Dolly Parton, who still records albums, or Johnny Cash or the Temptations, that all have many hits. All of these artists were and are still some of the best singers ever. I know some of you might be thinking, "I don't like the oldies", but there must be a genre or an era you like from the "oldies". The "oldies" isn't for everyone, but the messages they tell through the lyrics are exceptional and are the kind of things that can teach important lessons. The songs have a meaning and a life lesson that everyone can learn from. The majority of people that listen to "oldies" are people that grew up in that era and their children.

I happen to stumble upon the "oldies" one day many years ago when I was with my mom and my grandmother. There are only a few songs from the "oldies" I don't like. I grew up around all types of music, so you could say I like diversity and have an open mind. Fewer and fewer people listen to the "oldies" though. The type of music you listen to is totally up to you, but just think about what you could teach your kids. Most songs nowadays are about drugs, drinking, and a lot of them have profanity. Just think about all of this the next time you decide to turn on the radio, Youtube, or maybe even iTunes, and select an "oldie" instead.