One of the perks of being a photojournalist is that I have the unique privilege of getting a front-row seat to seeing our community at its finest. It's those shining moments that remind me why I chose to remain in this profession after 32 years.
Among the most recent examples happened just last week when dozens of students from Mountain Home High School took that stage to showcase their individual strengths and talents during a pair of events that sought to help others at the school. The community talent show in Lloyd Schiller Gymnasium gave these students a chance to demonstrate their ability to sing, act, paint or play a musical instrument.
To a point, I must admit that I'm a bit jealous when I see these students perform, especially those with the gift to sing. I often joke that I'd love to sing in public, but I'm not allowed.
If memory serves, there's still a court order in effect that prohibits me from ever singing... even if I'm in the shower. This is probably the same reason why my radio broadcast instructor told me one day that I had the perfect voice for *print* journalism, but I digress.
Before the students went on stage, I took a few minutes to speak to a few of these students in hopes of learning more about what they planned to showcase that evening. Among the stories that made me smile was one from Bethany Rose Clement, who recalled her days as a young child when she sang to her parents while pretending to play the guitar.
Admit it. How many of us played the "air guitar" when we were younger? How many of us saw a tennis racket, picked it up and started strumming the strings as we sang along to a song on the radio or took a pair of pencils and started drumming along on our desk as we did our homework?
Please tell me that I'm not the only one who did this.
As I sat and listened to these young teens, you could easily tell that each of them had a passion for their respective art. It was also clear that many of them had spent days, weeks or even months practicing their lines or memorizing the lyrics to ensure they had polished their work.
I was particularly impressed with students like Owen Ostberg, who picked up his "axe" and cranked up the amplifier as he belted out a familiar tune by Metallica. Because I'm not nearly as fond of today's music as some individuals, it was refreshing to hear a teenager that not only knew about these "masters of metal" but had a newfound appreciation for this form of music.
His friends in the audience were equally impressed. Their cheers of support were nearly deafening.
At the same time, we had students like Bryanna Strom and Caleb Schneider, who chose to demonstrate what some might consider a dying art form. Together, they performed on stage without ever saying a word during their pantomime routine.
For me, that performance took me back to the variety shows of the 1960s and 1970s when viewers were treated to the simple delight of artists like Marcel Marceau and Shields and Yarnell, who set a standard that a select few have chosen to follow. To be successful, these performers have to not only perfect their hand and body movements, but their over-the-top facial expressions have to also capture the moment for members of the audience, regardless of where they are seated.
During the evening, I also got a glimpse at what might be our future stand-up comedians. Among them was Cierra Webb, who used her own misfortunes to weave a tale that had people in the audience laughing out loud.
What caught my attention was how she accurately described how teenagers view the world — that they can't wait to be on their own — until they realize that it was their parents that helped them reach that point in their lives.
For example, teens today are particular fond of the smart phones they use every single day — paid for by their parents. They are equally proud that they are able to drive whereever they want in their own cars — also paid for by their parents.
Best of all, the proceeds from this show went to help the hundreds of students that represent Mountain Home High School's Class of 2017. The dollars collected through admission fees and sales of snacks that evening will go toward supporting this year's senior celebration.
The post-graduation party is something I had when I completed high school back in 1984. It ensures our graduates not only have a chance to be together one last time before they go their separate ways, it ensures all of them are able to celebrate in a safe, alcohol-free environment.
The idea that so many students joined forces to ensure this celebration is so successful is a bonus.
— Brian S. Orban