When I was a senior in high school, I couldn't wait to get out of my hometown of Toppenish.
I wanted to experience the world, and be mixed in with people that didn't know my middle name and with folks who wouldn't call my parents if they sighted me at the grocery store.
Now that I'm back in the Lower Valley, people still call family members when they've spotted me somewhere in town. Now it's just a bit comical.
But with an extensive visit with the newly crowned Miss Grandview, Briana Biggs, I was able to re-live my teen years, at least vicariously.
Though I never wore a crown, it was nice to have a chance to re-live my youthful experiences through my visit with her.
But it got me thinking.
Biggs began listing her achievements, accomplishments, activities and goals, and they were many. She seems so determined to accomplish her goals, and the goals are actually noble feats.
After my heartwarming visit with her, I realized a trend among area teens. Our area's youth are quite the remarkable generation.
There are, yes, some that aren't up to par, but nonetheless, I've never seen so many youngsters in the same age-bracket with so much desire, motivation and sincerity for their communities. The Lower Valley is all that these teens know. And as far as they are concerned, they want to make their homes a better place to live.
In an interview with two Sunnyside High School students last fall, the two said they just wanted people to know that not all teens are gangsters.
That struck a chord with me.
Sunnyside students Jose Manzo and Mariah Gonzalez were working on a series of service projects as part of their senior project requirements. They shared with me their overwhelming desire to help others. They also shared with me that during sporting events when Sunnyside hosts a visiting team, they hear comments that stereotype all Sunnyside students as having gang involvement. Not only did these two want to help, they wanted to help paint Sunnyside with a better image.
Examples of extraordinary youth could fill this entire newspaper for weeks, and I think we can all agree this area is blessed with bright young individuals who are on their way to success.
My suggestion to our Daily Sun News readers is when you see these students out in the community trying to make a difference, let's get behind them, support them and stand by their sides.
Because of our Lower Valley teens, I'm truly inspired to become a better person. They take my favorite Gandhi quote to heart, "Be the change you want to see in the world."