A class at Voyager Middle School is focusing on what it means to have the heart and character of a man.
“The only real man I’ve had in my life is my grandfather,” 8th grader Amir Pleasant said.
Pleasant’s father had been in and out of jail most of his life. Starting in just 2nd grade, Pleasant’s anger issues arose and by 7th grade, he was close to following his father’s footsteps.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 24 million children in the U.S. live in biological father-absent homes, amounting to one out of every three children. Nine out of ten parents agree this is a “crisis.”
“I was doing really bad in school because I hung out with the wrong crowd and that got me in a lot of trouble,” Pleasant said.
Last Tuesday, he was one of seven students graduating from the Everett’s Boys and Girls Club’s “Passport to Manhood” program. The program is attempting to create positive role models for boys.
“If you can catch them early, at this crossroads, you show them there is another way they can go,” teacher Jake Marshsaid.
Students are hand picked to attend the program but not forced. They are taught about respect, responsibility, and kindness.
“This has taught me to be responsible, open minded and to communicate more with others,” Antonny Alberto-Camacho said.
The boys are also encouraged to set aside childish things that are keeping them from becoming young adults.
“I’m probably going to do away with video games,” Pleasant said.“Too many hours. A waste of time.”
Pleasant is already seeing a change in himself: he is slower to become angry and doing better in school. He knows it will be a journey but he is committed.
“I just have to keep focused,” he said.“I can do this. Everybody needs someone to look up to and I can be that person.”
The program consists of 14 sessions, each of which concentrates on specific aspects of manhood through highly interactive activities. Each student who participates is issued his own “Passport” to emphasize the personal journey of maturation. At the close of each session, the passport is stamped as a way to recognize achievement.
The 14 sessions that make up ‘Passport to Manhood’ are:
Getting to Know You
Values in Personal Decision Making
Code of Ethics
Responses to Authority
Relationships with Girls
Fatherhood and the Family
Employment and Careers
Personal Leadership and Community Responsibility
Cooperation and Conflict
Self-Esteem and Image
The final session is a graduation ceremony celebrating the completion of the boys’ work.
More information about the “Passport to Manhood” program can be found here.
In the whole nation, national park visitation increased by 7 percent.
Crater Lake is the one location where visitation has grown for three consecutive years. Impressive numbers were also noted for the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, where success was credited to the “Seven Wonders of Oregon”public relations campaign. The campaign helped to increase numbers at the Painted Hills by 50 percent.
“We saw a huge increase in visits, even with Highway 26 closed for a week in July because of fires,” Shelley Hall, superintendent of the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument said.
Predictions for 2015 are also high.
Since Congress expandedthe size of the Oregon Caves National Monument and Preserve by about 10 times, officials expect record-breaking visitation.
“As Oregon heads into the spring and summer tourist season, the monument’s expansion is welcome news for one of our state’s most iconic natural treasures,” said U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Oregon. “This is a fantastic shot in the arm for Oregon’s tourism and recreation economy.”
For 30 years, 90-year-old Italene Gaddis has dreamed of appearing on the Tonight Show.
Her reason is simple.
“I can encourage more people,” she said. “That’s what I’m about, to encourage people.”
Since she retired at age 62, Gaddis has been singing at shopping malls and retirement centers.
Her dream was to sing a song to her then 97-year-old mother when the Tonight Show was hosted by Johnny Carson. But Gaddis never got a call.
Still, she continued strumming her autoharp and singing positive original songs. She has appeared on radio and television, got a record, won a talent contest, and written a bookof poems that are “simple and sincere representations of Italene’s life journey and her thoughts for hopeful living.”
Joey Cooskey stumbled upon a YouTube video of competitive cup stacking three years ago.
Today the 17-year-old is the fastest cup stacker in Oregon. She just got back from the 2015 World Championship sport stacking tournament held April 11-12 in Montreal, Canada where she placed fourth in her age division. Next, she will compete in the Junior Olympics in Hampton Roads, Va., in July.
Cooskey, a junior at Sam Barlow High School practices “obsessively,” between two to five hours a day.
“I’ve always wanted to be known for something,” shesaid.
Cup stacking is also known as sport stacking. Competitors stack and unstack specially designed plastic cups in established sequences and various combinations of pyramids. Timers are built into the soft mats that the competitor stacks on.
The goal is to stack the cups as quickly as possible without dropping any cups. A misstep is termed scratching.
Stackers move their hands so fast that videos appear stuck in fast forward.
“Some of them, it’s just a blur of color,” Cooskey’s mother, Lynda, said.