There were two large well-designed handdrawn "Welcome: Rusty the Logger" signs taped to the entrance doors at the Walden School. I was there to work with 7th and 8th grade students on writing and filming television commercials.
As I arrived at the rural school, each student gave me a firm handshake with direct-eye contact as they introduced themselves by name.
The students broke into five groups of three to four students.
Their assignment was for the content of the commercials to promote positive youth body image. I would work with each group for 10 minutes, helping with script points, blocking, and taping, and anything else I felt would be interesting or instructive.
The teachers had a firm grasp on their game plan, and the students followed their instructions without a whimper. They came to their sessions well prepared, with solid concepts that were fully fleshed out into strong scripts. They had thought the blocking through, gathered appropriate props and wardrobe, and memorized their lines. And they performed with confidence, heads up, voices loud, totally committed to their role. To a student, the work was impressive.
Best of all, the morning was full of great fun and a hefty amount of laughter. Even a blind man could see everyone had a great time.
After the commercials were shot, I did a 45-minute presentation for grades K-8. The administration urged me to include content about underage substance use, bullying, and positive body image.
I presented the body of the talk, then spun a basketball on my finger, made my muscle burp, called to stage and had fun with a couple of 5-year-olds, took questions, and finished with a song while playing guitar. More than a dozen parents and family members attended.
What a fun mid-morning we all had up at the Walden School. That's the K-8 Walden School, Walden, Vt. - where adults and kids, our politicians call "ordinary," call home.
Yesterday was a touch more than passably sunny and warm. A great early spring day for a dozen groups of high school students from all corners of our state to celebrate Teen Prevention Day on the Vermont State House lawn in Montpelier.
Under tents, aided by well-done homemade signs, displays, balloons, wristbands, pins, and various other give-outs, each group promoted healthy living ideas, well backed by facts, on topics such as teenage drinking, smoking, suicide, and lackadaisical seat belt use.
Inside Room 11 of the State House, each group presented a short talk in front of a very small handful of legislators. The talks were clearly delivered, backed by strong points bolstering arguments in favor of allowing funding for their prevention work to continue.
A few legislators got up to give a vocal hip, hip, hooray to the kids from their district, while at the same time readying the kids for the inevitable funding cuts stemming from the recent budget.
I spoke briefly on substance use and peer pressure. My words were opinions, not backed by statistics, but backed by my life experiences. I asked the legislators if it's true they get a daily meal allowance? They all nodded yes.
I wandered to the room if next April, Alcohol Awareness Month, the legislators might pay for any lunch and dinner drinks with their own money, not the taxpayer meal allowance. And any meal allowance they save, per day, not buying alcohol, they pool, and donate to the student's prevention efforts.
Here in our fantastic State of Vermont, from Walden to Montpelier and beyond, students, teachers, supervisors, and legislators, are getting a great amount of work done. Now that's good news.
Rusty DeWees tours Vermont and Northern New York with his act "The Logger." His column appears weekly. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Listen for The Logger, Rusty DeWees, Thursdays at 7:40 on the Big Station, 98.9 WOKO or visit his website at www.thelogger.com.