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The Good Stuff by Shelley Bennett

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by Shelley Bennett

Last Thursday I witnessed two really cool things happen at school. One was when World War II Veteran Newt McDonald visited our ASB class. He was accompanied by fellow Vet Lee Hemphill.

The two were recent travelers on an Honor Flight which takes veterans to Washington D.C. so they can visit war memorials, monuments, and do other touristy things in our nation’s capitol.

They both shared their stories and Newt got a little choked up when recalling seeing the changing of the guard at Arlington National Cemetery. It was very touching as he told us about his “brothers” who are buried there.

Our students were totally drawn in as Mr. McDonald told stories about his trip, serving overseas, and being trained to repair watches. Proving that some pop culture references are universal was a tale about Newt repairing the watch of Evel Knievel. Most of the class nodded their heads when he asked if they had heard of the famous daredevil.

The other was when I walked out to the parking lot after school and saw Anthony, a student from last year, discovering colors for the first time. He was colorblind for the past 15 years, seeing some colors in muted tones, like blue and gray. Just about an hour before he received special glasses that reveal all of the colors to him.

His mom asked him to point out the colors in my keychain. He said, tentatively at first then gaining confidence, “That’s yellow, that’s white, and that’s purple!”

“Yes!” we all shouted.

“That’s so cool!” Anthony replied.

Yes, it is so cool! Seeing colors for the first time. Can you imagine? It’s life-changing!

Last year Anthony was usually quiet, sometimes difficult to engage in conversation. I remember complimenting him on his bright red jacket one morning and not getting much of a response. Now I knew why! Now he loves red!

I thought about Anthony all weekend and wondered how he wrapped his brain around the sunsets and sunrises of Lassen County. I wonder how he named them.


The Lassen High School Drama club is hosting the musical The Awesome 80s starting Thursday at 6:00. It will also play on Friday at 6:00 with a Saturday matinee at 1:30. Tickets are $8 for adults and $6 for kids and senior citizens.

I unofficially appointed myself as the costume expert. My first request of director Kayla Millar was to not dress them in fluorescent colors and tutus. We were more about the pegged jeans (501, acid-washed, colored denim), ESPRIT sweatshirts, and popped colors on polos. Fortunately Vans, Converse, and Birkenstocks are timeless.

I dropped into rehearsal and “like totally” enjoyed the preview. The opening number is fun with lots of synthesizers, 80s dance moves, and lyrics like “the radical, most excellent totally awesome 80s.”

A conversation between Allie (Lily Ammon) and Desmey (Peter Nielsen) was reminiscent of a scene from Pretty in Pink. It introduced a conflict between the “Posh” and the “Boho’s”. The “Posh” have everything and joke about their second BMW and forgetting that school started because you’re still on Paris time.

Lily’s character, a boho, has developed a crush on Andrew, a posh who is also a new student. Peter’s character, also a boho, is not very happy about this. It’s all very Andie and Ducky and I am here for it!

Another conflict develops when a teacher, Mrs. Keating, played by Oakley Cruz, is going to be fired because of her unconventional teaching methods. As the students gather signatures to retain her, I realized this was a nod to Dead Poet’s Society.

Amongst all the 80s references, budding romances, and complicated friendships, there is something for everyone!

Will Allie and Andrew look beyond their cliques and find true love? Will Demsey get Allie to see him as more than a friend? Will Mrs. Keating keep her job? You’ll have to come to a showing of The Awesome 80s and find out!


Remember when news was ‘newsy’? When you read about weddings, family events and engagement announcements in the newspaper? If you have something that might be newsworthy, please submit it to shelleybennett24@gmail.com and I’ll do my best to include it here in “The Good Stuff.”

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