CLEARWATER VALLEY -- Last week I headed back to Clearwater Valley High School on Wednesday afternoon to check out the senior project displays. I had so much fun visiting with students about their projects and future plans that I didn’t have time to see all of them. What a great bunch of students! CVHS teacher Char McKinney, who serves as the adviser for senior projects, was bursting with pride with how well the class did with their projects. Though some students needed more encouragement than others, they all powered through and completed meaningful projects.  Mrs. Becker in her first year as CVHS principal was also impressed with the achievements.

I was struck by how many projects focused on improving the school and grounds through construction, painting and tree planting and brush cutting. Other focused on service projects, raising money to help others, donating time to non-profit groups or pushing themselves to learn something new.

Several of the students recognized a need for outdoor seating- benches and picnic tables at CV schools and proceeded to build them. Too many great projects to mention them all.

Trinaty Stevens thought the hallways looked a bit drab, so she painted four brightly colored murals with inspirational saying in the strip above the lockers including one with the words “Just breathe,”. She has already inspired some younger students who are ready to get the brushes out to paint additional murals. When I attended the last junior high volleyball game a few weeks back, I noticed that the crow’s nest (announcers booth) was not solid Rams red like the surrounding bleachers, but painted in a fun graphic design that really stands out. Turns out that painting the crows nest was Gabby Harrington’s project.  She credits Mike Graves, CVHS maintenance guy for making sure she had the right equipment to work safely up in the rafters to complete the paint job.

Christian Fabbi is heading off to Franciscan University in Steubenville, Ohio on a wrestling scholarship.  He began wrestling at a young age thanks to the youth wrestling program. He wanted to give back to the program that gave him his start, so his senior project was helping coach 6th to 8th graders, a great experience. Fallon Wilkins, in the booth next to Fabbi, is also heading to college (Corbin University in Salem, Ore.) on a wrestling scholarship. She job-shadowed some local businesses including Idaho River Land and Freedom Northwest and focused her project on social media marketing, gaining some real-life experience in business marketing.

Track and cross-country running star Melanie Gianopulos organized a Run with your Heart, 3 kilometer fun run/walk in February on the school grounds in honor of her dad. She raised a whopping $1,793.30 for St. Mary’s heart rehab clinic, far exceeding her fund-raising goals and presented an oversized and photo-worthy check to Kim Johnson of St. Mary’s during the event.

Student body president, Dakota Gorges completed a project working with Lego League students in the school district. She helped 4th through 8th graders to develop science-based research projects and worked with them on presentation and public speaking skills to share their projects. Gorges enjoyed working with three teams of students, teaching them how to work together, playing charades to develop non-verbal communication.

Kamiah students have been doing great things, too. Last week two Kamiah High School juniors- Mya Barger and Cecily Puckett won the two top prizes at the North Idaho Science and Engineering Fair! Cecily’s project was “Comparing the effectiveness of two types of equine (horse) assisted therapy in reducing anxiety in teens.”  Mya’s project was the “Effectiveness of Lavandula scents in deterring Odocoileus virginianus (white-tailed deer) and Cervus canadensis (elk) from harming agricultural crops.”  Mya and Cecily each earned an all-expenses paid trip to the Regeneron International Science and Engineering Fair in Anaheim, California. Girls in science, you rock!

I hear people say some disparaging things about “kids these days”. All I can say, is you haven’t met the kids I have. There are some great students at CV and Kamiah focusing on and meeting their goals and getting ready to head out into the bigger world. Good for them!

Last week I worked in two different community libraries -Kooskia and Kamiah, filling in for librarians out sick. Patrons inevitably brought up coronavirus. Best advice I can give, this is not the time to listen to rumors or conspiracy theories. The virus is here, and it is real. If you want the best factual information, check out the Centers for Disease Control website at https://www.cdc.gov and look for COVID-19.  These are the scientists who study viruses who are updating the public frequently as new information emerges. “The good thing about science is that it’s true whether or not you believe in it.” (Neil DeGrasse Tyson)

Meanwhile I am beginning to practice “social distancing” this week.  Other than my library work, it’s time to stay home, work on my garden, focus on healthy eating and exercising, reading and writing and only going places that I deem necessary. Stay safe and be compassionate toward others in this time of uncertainty.

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