From the Publisher's Desk: Here’s the secret for staying young

By Michele Grgas Thomas The Triplicate April 19, 2012 01:00 am

Teens at the summit. Del Norte Triplicate/Michele Thomas
Teens at the summit. Del Norte Triplicate/Michele Thomas
One of the perks of being the local newspaper publisher is getting invited to many cool events. Last week my calendar was pretty full.

Wednesday I attended a meet-and-greet for the production company that will be making a film in Del Norte County next month. Maybe I’m just getting old, but the crew of five men and one woman who represented the production team seemed way too young to be in charge of such a huge project. But once I heard them speak it was obvious they knew their biz and their excitement and confidence instantly won me over.

The movie’s going to be great for Del Norte County’s economy and it’s going to be fun watching them make their Bigfoot horror-comedy-drama called “Love in the Time of Monsters.” There’s even a chance some of us could be extras. Wonder if they need a mom for the crazy Croatian, Uncle Slavko?

Thursday our Chamber of Commerce hosted its annual Economic Summit. The Triplicate was a sponsor and as a result had a reserved table near the front. But rather than sit with the people I work with every day, I sought out new faces.

Just a few minutes earlier I’d been behind a school bus that stopped to unload 31 high school students and teacher Lisa Howard. So when I searched for a place to sit, I headed toward the back of the room to a table where a couple of Del Norte High School coeds were and asked if I could join them.

Lauren Trujillo, left, and Tina Thao. Del Norte Triplicate/Michele Thomas
Lauren Trujillo, left, and Tina Thao. Del Norte Triplicate/Michele Thomas
The girls were seniors Lauren Trujillo and Tina Thao. I didn't recognize Lauren right away but she looked familiar.  She reminded me that her photo had been published in the Triplicate recently when we covered her long jump event at a home track meet.  Then I realized I first met her when Rick and I took her photo for the Neighbors page when she was selling Girl Scout cookies. That was when she was in seventh grade, she told me.

Lauren graduates this year and will attend UC Santa Barbara. Her friend Tina is off to Sacramento State in the fall. Both young women impressed me as we chatted between speakers during the five-hour conference. I enjoyed their company and felt, like I do often when I’m around local high school students, that the future is in good hands.

The next day I had the privilege of addressing a group of students gathered in Alison Eckhart’s class for the monthly meeting of the Scholarship Mentoring Program. Donna Sund invited me to speak about my educational and professional experiences. Basically the students wanted to know what education and preparation it took to be a newspaper publisher.

I started with high school and fast forwarded through the nearly four decades that eventually brought me to Crescent City and the Del Norte Triplicate. My audience was polite and respectful as they ate the pizza Donna provided and listened to my tale of how it was my typing and spelling skills that landed me my first newspaper job as well as that bachelor’s degree in English.

The Scholarship Mentoring Program is in its 14th year. It was initiated in 1998, with a small group of mentors and 12 high school freshmen, and over the years has now involved almost 300 students, who have been awarded over $320,000 in scholarships.

Patti Stammer, left, location scout for “Love in the Time of Monsters,” chats with DNHS seniors Brooke DeRoule and Dalton Bradbury about roles as extras during the annual Economic Summit sponsored by the Crescent City-Del Norte County Chamber of Commerce last Thursday at Elk Valley Rancheria. Thirty-one Del Norte High School students attended the event. Del Norte Triplicate/Michele Thomas
Patti Stammer, left, location scout for “Love in the Time of Monsters,” chats with DNHS seniors Brooke DeRoule and Dalton Bradbury about roles as extras during the annual Economic Summit sponsored by the Crescent City-Del Norte County Chamber of Commerce last Thursday at Elk Valley Rancheria. Thirty-one Del Norte High School students attended the event. Del Norte Triplicate/Michele Thomas
The unique aspect of this program is that it identifies deserving, academically qualified students early in their high school career. Those students who are accepted to the program, and who continue to maintain academic eligibility, receive a scholarship each year during their four years of high school, with the funds placed in a special account to be applied to their university fees after graduation.

In addition, the program sponsors mentoring activities throughout the school year, and has offered college tour trips during the summer.

One of the mentoring activities is monthly lunchtime meetings where various mentors and other community members are invited to talk about their careers and educational backgrounds. Speakers before me included Chris Doehle, John Tynes, Irene Tynes, Ward Stover, Tom Polidore, Laura Olson, Shellie Duncan, Becky Blatnick, Connor Caldwell and Chad Hegelmeyer, Kevin Hartwick and many others.

There’s no better way to stay young than to surround yourself with young people. And there’s no better way to contribute to the future of Del Norte County than to invest in our youth. If you’d like to know more about the Scholarship Mentoring Program contact Donna or Kevin Caldwell at Redwood Medical. As for me, please keep those invites coming.

Reach Michele Thomas, the Del Norte Triplicate’s publisher, at mt­ho­mas­@triplicate.com, 464-2141 or stop by 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays.