Friday, May 31, 2013

Bits & Pieces: Enough Is Enough

Enough is enough.

In the last four months, I’ve been “one degree” from two young men who chose to take their lives because of bullying.

Bullying.

In both cases, the young men decided to use a permanent solution when life became overwhelming in the face of bullying.

Enough is enough.

It’s time for everyone, adults and students alike, to do something to stop this insidious piece of American culture.

Bullying is not limited to schools. It can take place in the job force among adults, and shoot; it can take place within a dating or married relationship.

There’s an old saying that “stick and stones can break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”

Malarkey.

Words have power. They hurt. Often in ways more painful than sticks and stones. Hate-filled words dig into a person’s psyche and never let go.

Today’s social-media culture feeds into the bullying crisis. With the simple push of a button, today’s student can feed a Photoshopped image or a libelous, hate-filled post to Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter and more in a matter of seconds.

What was once confined to notes on a page, is now blasted across the Internet with a stroke of a key. Think of it as placing a bully-filled billboard in front of Walmart—for all to see. That’s the power Internet has given to bullying.

Bullying is wrong. It is preventable.

It’s time we as a community stand up and say STOP.

Enough is enough.

Next week, Kirk Smalley, a nationally recognized speaker on the issue, will be in Jay, reminding students, and parents alike, that everyone is somebody—and it’s up to all of us to stand up for the silent victims of bullying. Before it’s too late.

Smalley earned the right to speak his message the hard way. His 11-year-old son, Ty, killed himself, ultimately, in response to two years of bullying.

The meeting will take place at 6 p.m., Monday, June 3, at the Jay Community Center, 439 S. Ninth St., Jay. It’s a joint initiative of Jay CAN and Grove CAN. It’s for anyone, but especially folks in Delaware County who want to do something about bullying.

All joking aside, I’ve heard about the “Berlin Wall” of DelCo that exists along the Zena road. What happens in Jay, stays on one side, what happens in Grove, on the other.

For this meeting, it’s time to breach that barrier.

Smalley’s message isn’t limited to students and adults living in only Jay or Grove. Bullying transcends schools, community, county and state lines.

Unfortunately, it’s an issue reaching epic proportions.

Smalley told me one out of every four students has a plan to kill himself because of bullying.

If you are being bullied, regardless of your age, tell someone you trust. If that person doesn’t take you seriously, tell another person. Keep telling people (including adults) until someone listens.

You are important. You matter. You are somebody.

If you are an adult, and someone tells you they are being bullied, DO SOMETHING. It’s that simple. DO SOMETHING.

We as a community at-large MUST do something to stop the virus spreading among our students.

School may be out, but bullying doesn’t take a holiday. Jay CAN and Grove CAN organizers believe in this issue so much, they found away to bring Smalley to talk to students and parents now, rather than trying to find a date in his international speaking tour next year.

We, as a community, have the opportunity to make a difference.

Enough is enough.

Do something. Make a difference.

Stand up for the silent.

Kaylea M. Hutson is the managing editor of The Grove Sun. She can be reached at kaylea.hutson@grovesun.com or 918-786-2228. This column originally appeared in the May 31, 2013 issue of The Grove Sun

Friday, May 24, 2013

Bits & Pieces: Best & Worst of Times

I think Dickens said it best when he said, it was the best of times, and the worst of times.

This has certainly been a week of best, and worst.

The best...

Graduation

An emotional evening, filled with joy, expectation, and a lot of happy tears.

I think GHS Principal Renae Dozier summed it up the best when talked about the potential in this graduating class.

From scholarships, to dreams, and more. This class, like others around the country, is ready to take the world by storm. I think it’s safe to say, we, as a community, eagerly await to see you rise to your potential.

JAKES Event

Think students are only into electronic devices — think again. Last weekend’s JAKES event proved that students can really get into hanging out in the “woods.” It was impressive to see all of the volunteers pulling together. Kudos to Shane Berry and his crew. On a personal note, my nephew had a blast — and is ready to come again next year.

Rotary Park

Last weekend, I had a chance to see a bit of what makes Grove great — as volunteers with the Rotary club truly put their motto “service above self” to work. Despite the heat and rocky conditions (I hear they wore through some drill bits because of the rocky ground), they worked hard to put the park together. If you haven’t driven by the former Kiwanis Park at 10th and Mills, swing by. In the words of a young friend it’s just “awesome.”

Worst...

Tornado Season

I think this week is destined to be marked by storms and tragedy. Friends in Joplin marked the two year anniversary of the 2011 Tornado, while another friend rode out the storm in Moore. It was a painful reminder of how powerful nature can be.

Thankfully, Wednesday passed for my friends in Joplin, with a few more smiles than tears. My friend in Moore was also fortunate – her son was in one of the schools hit, but he was one of the uninjured students.

Saying Goodbye

One of the hardest stories to write, in any capacity, is one involving the death of a young student. It may be harder for me, than others, because of my past involvement as a children/youth pastor.

I know there are a lot of hurting family members, students and teachers out there, grieving the loss of a talented young man. Know that the staff of The Grove Sun is thinking about all of you, during this season of grief.

Looking Ahead

Did you know that next weekend is the annual Delaware County Relay for Life event? Everything kicks off at 7 p.m. on Friday, May 31, at the Grove Civic Center.

Kirk Smalley, a national speaker (from Oklahoma), with Stand for the Silent, will bring his message of anti-bullying to the Jay Community Center at 6 p.m. Monday, June 3. I had a chance to talk with Smalley, and learn more about his story, which began with the suicide of his 11-year-old son.

We’ll have more information on both of these stories, as well as hopefully some fun pictures from the weekend, in Tuesday’s issue.

#iamgroveok

We’re starting to look for the things that make Grove, Okla., great, as we kick off our #iamgroveok summer series.

In part of this effort, we want to find – and profile –people who make Grove great! So if you know someone who truly embodies the “I Am Grove, Okla.,” spirit, let me know.

This person doesn’t have to be “fancy” or have an “important” job – really, it can be anyone, from every age bracket and walk of life. We’ve got our eyes out for some ideas –but would love to have suggestions. Just email me at kaylea.hutson@grovesun.com and put “#iamgroveok” in the subject line.

So, here’s the bits and pieces for this week. Here’s hoping there’s more “best” times ahead for all of us, as we launch into summer.

Kaylea M. Hutson is the managing editor of The Grove Sun. She can be reached at kaylea.hutson@grovesun.com or 918-786-2228. This column originally appeared in the May 24, 2013 issue of The Grove Sun

Friday, May 17, 2013

Bits & Pieces: Looking behind the story


Sometimes a story is so good, it leaves you inspired—and it makes you want to keep talking about it to anyone who will listen.

Such is the case this week of the story of Nelson and Ivy Pendergrass of Kansas, Okla.

Hopefully you saw their feature in Tuesday’s issue of The Grove Sun. In it, I told how the couple has spent the last 55 years raising four children of their own and well over 200 foster children.

Did you catch that—55 years. Amazing. While they started out caring for boys (for a boys’ home) and then boys and girls (in the foster-care system); in 1982 they learned of a need for safe places for teenaged girls.

From that moment on, their home has been a haven for girls between 13 and 18.

Sitting in their living room, I experienced the sheer joy of being in the presence of two people who truly love children.

Oh, they will tell you it hasn’t always been easy. In 55 years life hasn’t been rainbows raining Skittles or all unicorns and ponies.

But it has been real, and it has been rich. Maybe not the riches you can take to the bank, but yet in some ways, I don’t think that mattered to the Pendergrasses.

It’s easy to see, as you listen to them talk about their children, to realize how special Ivy and Nelson are, and to see how they have made an amazing difference in the lives of countless students.

I asked them how they started their decades of parenting. After some reflection, both said their faith in God not only sustained them over the years, but also helped them take the first step towards being foster parents.

Early in their marriage, they attended a church service where the pastor said, “if you want to do what God wants you to do, stand up.”

Both joked they really didn’t know what they were getting into when they stood up. But they did, and because they were willing to serve, God gave them a life-changing task.

Here’s the deal. The Pendergrasses not only recognized a calling to be a safe place for children in need, but they also strove to tell those same children every day how they are valuable and precious to the world.

I am amazed at their endurance for the call and their passion for the task they have undertaken all these years.

This week, on the eve of their “graduation” from parenting, others recognized the Pendergrasses for their achievements. My assumption is the couple accepted those accolades with a quiet humbleness.

When I talked with them, they really didn’t understand why I would want to write a story about their time as foster parents. To them, they were just taking care of, and loving on children. Period. They were just being parents.

That alone, makes them awesome. Ivy and Nelson, thank you for standing up for children. Thank you for being a place of refuge. Thank you for saying yes.

May your story challenge others to stand up and become foster or adoptive parents, because the need is bigger than any of us truly realize.

Want to know more about foster parenting? Contact the OKDHS Bridge Family Resource Center at 1-800-376-9729.

#grovegrad13

Have you started taking and hashtagging your graduation photos with #grovegrad13?

I hope so. We’ve set up a special section for all things graduation (look for the “graduation coverage” tag on the home page.)

As you take pictures tonight, during graduation or project grad afterwards, tag away. Think of this as the community coverage of graduation.

Coming soon: #iamgroveok

Yes, the Grove Sun loves hashtags. This summer we’re going to launch a new social networking party designed to show the world just what it means to be from Grove, Okla.

We’re quite excited about this project. Frankly, I’m hoping you’ll use it to show the newbie editor the best and the brightest that Grove has to offer!

I’ll tell you more about it next week, but soon you’ll start to see ads that showcase #iamgroveok using some of our staff as a jumping off point.

So that’s the bits and pieces this week. Congrats to everyone graduating in DelCo. It’s an amazing and exciting time in your life. I’ll leave the grads with this challenge: Trust in God with all of your heart – even when you might not understand everything ahead of you. Know that God has a plan for your life – you just need to take the first step.

Kaylea M. Hutson is the managing editor of The Grove Sun. She can be reached at kaylea.hutson@grovesun.com or 918-786-2228. This column originally appeared in the May 17, 2013 issue of The Grove Sun

Friday, May 10, 2013

Bits & Pieces: Got Social Media?

Are you a social media guru? Do you use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr or really, all things social media?

If so, then we have a treat for you.

Starting this weekend, you’ll be able to be a community journalist of sorts – by hashtagging your favorite graduate photo, tweet and more with #grovegrad13.

It’s that simple.

Using technology (and some behind the scenes geek stuff), we’ll provide a special page on our website www.grandlakenews.com, specifically for graduation coverage.

Any public post, tweet or photo that includes #grovegrad13 in the text, will find its way to this special page.

So in a way, we’re asking our readers to pick up their smart phones or tablets, and help us tell the story of Grove’s graduation.

Everything with the hashtag will post to the website. A few of our favorites may find its way into the next few print editions as we strive to cover the events at graduation.

Make sense? We hope so.

Just remember this important hashtag: #grovegrad13.

This will be (hopefully) the first of many social media projects we’re cooking up here at The Grove Sun. Pst… watch this space next week.

So speaking of Facebook….

A lot of you have been commenting on our #QofD: (Question of the Day if you aren’t hashtag savvy.)

We’ve had a few “hopping” posts this week, and plan to use some of your comments in a story today. Your interest – and questions – in a second story has caused us to take a deeper look at the new requirements coming to people who use food stamps. Our goal is to have that story for Tuesday’s issue.

Again, this is simply one way, we at The Grove Sun, want to be your community news source.

A few personal notes

A few of you have taken me up on my “challenge” to not only introduce yourselves to me, but also give me a few story ideas.

Thanks. Your ideas are helping me “dive into” the community, helping me get to know it from a local perspective – so keep up the good work.

I also want to give props to the Grove School District (and the Grove Police Department) for way they sent off the Special Olympics.

I can honestly say I had chills while snapping pics of the bus and waving students. It was one of those moments only small towns can pull off. Truly priceless.

A personal confession
You know it’s one of those days, when you are covering your first City Council meeting and your pen dies – and you don’t have another one in your camera bag – so you bum a pen off the woman sitting next to you.

Yep. It was the mayor’s wife — definitely another small town moment. Thanks Lori for bailing the newbie editor out. I’ll give it back to you the next time I see you.

One last note

Grove post office workers are hoping to “stamp out” hunger this Saturday, as they take part in the local national “Help Stamp Out Hunger” campaign.

On Saturday, simply leave your non-perishable food items by your mailbox – or if you are like me, and have a p.o. box, take your food to main office.

Andreya Wilson, with the local post office, told me all food items collected will stay locally and help the Christian Help Center in Grove.

So there you have it. This week’s bits and pieces.

Kaylea M. Hutson is the managing editor of The Grove Sun. She can be reached at kaylea.hutson@grovesun.com or 918-786-2228. This column originally appeared in the May 10, 2013 issue of The Grove Sun

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Bits & Pieces: Just A Few Notes

This column previously ran
in May 3, 2013 issue
of The Grove Sun.
Last week, I used this space to introduce myself. Today, I want to introduce how I’m going to use this column.

Each week, unless writer’s block hits, I’ll fill this space with musings and random observations about life. Some weeks I’m sure I’ll have lots to say about a single subject. Others, like today, well, will be “bits and pieces,” or snippets of life of a small-town gal.

Warm Welome
Thanks to everyone who has smiled, said hi, or, in general, welcomed me to Grove. As you read this, I’m officially celebrating the end of the second week.

I’m hoping to get some time in the very near future to do some serious exploring—but I can tell you this: I can already tell this is a great community.

Thanks especially to the Masons and the Pritchard family for filling my second Saturday in town with joy. Those Masons, you never know what those guys will say or do—good thing most of the pancake breakfast was “off the record.”

Y’all started my day with laughter, and for that I’m thankful. Mr. Frank—who has connections to a former stomping ground, and probably mutual friends if we dig deeper—even treated me to breakfast.

A sweet treat.
Thanks also to the Pritchard family who were gracious enough to let me “crash” Olive’s 95th birthday, to get a fun feature for last Tuesday’s paper. If you missed the story about the surprise party, check it out at www.grandlakes.com.

So Does This Mean You’ll Cover….
OK. We (the “royal we” of the newspaper) can’t cover every event or run every photo suggestion. One of the best things about being a community newspaper is that we CAN cover things that the “big guys” might skip. That’s the blessings of being your community newspaper.

So here’s the deal. Please do not assume we know about an event or potential photo opportunity—and do not assume we’re not interested.. (Remember what your English teacher told you about assuming….)

We can only be at things, if we know about them. We’ll be honest and tell you if we can get somewhere, and if we can’t make an event, we’ll encourage you to submit a photo with the who, what, when, where, why and how, along with your best contact info.

Using Social Media
Next time you are on Facebook, swing by and “like” our page: www.facebook.com/grovesun. We’re having all kinds of fun, asking Questions of the Day (#QofD), posting reader submitted photos and more. Sometimes we even ask for news or feature story ideas. How we use Facebook is evolving, so feel free to check back often. Not on Facebook? You can follow us on Twitter at @grovesun

A Story Update
Kenton Jackson let me know about another benefit for Melissa, Quintin and Kallen Blevins. The next one will be from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., Saturday, May 11, at Honey Creek Resort. It will include Indian Tacos, live music and more. Team Kallen T-shirts will also be available for $10.

Uncle Kenton says Kallen has had some “ups and downs” but has gained 3 ounces, and, as of now, doctors say he’s doing well. “Kallen gives them a hard time with wiggling around and pulling on his intubation tubes. [A] very active little guy.”

One Last Thing
We’re looking for either a “newbie” or “seasoned veteran” mom to possibly feature in an upcoming issue. (Psst... Mother’s Day is next weekend. Have you bought your momma a present yet?). If you have a suggestion, or an idea let me know—you can contact me through email, by phone or with a Facebook private message.

On Personal Note
A 9-year-old “kidlet” in my life, Avery, is becoming the face of Autism/Asperger’s Awareness in northwest Arkansas and beyond. He’s spoken in front of government officials and been interviewed by the news media. His mom is a dear friend, and I’m quite proud to say I’m one of Avery’s fans. Feel free to check out his efforts at www.facebook.com/AverysProject

So that’s the bits and pieces for this week. I hear there’s an event Saturday involving the “burning of socks” that I shouldn’t miss. Hopefully I’ll be back (from a funeral) in time to catch the fun. I have a feeling it’s going to provide lots of photos and much amusement for my pals following my adventures with the hashtag #lifeofaneditor.

Kaylea M. Hutson is the managing editor of The Grove Sun. She can be reached at kaylea.hutson@grovesun.com or 918-786-2228. This column originally appeared in the May 3, 2013 issue of The Grove Sun

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