Mac Trotter, a former student, and I were discussing the amount of talent in this area with events this weekend being perfect examples. Mac is a very gifted musician. I didn't realize it until hearing him sing "The Star-Spangled Banner" at a Hauser basketball game as a senior and later invited him to the studio to record the song for a CD about my dad who served our nation during World War II. It will always be one of my favorite memories out of the 25 times or so being in the recording studio. And, Mac continues to explore and develop his singing, guitar, and songwriting skills.

Friday, I went to Christmas of Yesteryear and chose to watch a former student and colleague, Pete Law, perform brilliantly in "A Christmas Carol," a one-man show at WILLow LeaVes. He took the audience back to radio days while changing his voice to portray several characters and using a variety of equipment for sound effects. It was an amazing performance!

Then, I walked down to the Gold Nugget and listened to some other former students perform, Arthur Dayton, Avery Tallent, and Lee Dayton Morris. Arthur and Lee have been at it for some time while Avery has years ahead. While there, the carolers strolled in to entertain shoppers looking for that right piece of jewelry. When leaving Hope that evening, I noticed all the vehicles around the square and smiled, thinking about how Hope is such a special place.

Saturday, I attended the play, "Oh Promise Me," at Hauser. It was a superb performance by the entire cast, obviously supported by a great production staff and crew! They rightly presented flowers and gift cards to Mrs. Bryan, their sponsor and director, at the end as a thank you for all her time and effort. Since Mr. Law now has his own acting company in Hope, I am passing on their program thinking he just might need some very talented young people for future productions.

I reflected on having the seniors as fifth graders my last year of teaching and how proud I was of each one-Trevor Potts, Spencer Seim, Pete Trotter, Annie Ashbrook, & Alysha Pitman. Admittedly, I also thought about not having the pleasure to work with the other cast members -- Maggie Taylor, Chloe Kennedy, Sydney Schoen, Catherine Bruer, Bailey Bates, Sam Johnson, and Emma Watkins. While watching, I was reminded of some of my best classroom moments when allowing students the opportunity to express themselves away from their desk and chair. If teaching again, I would focus more on such lessons.

I thought about the never ending standardized testing debates and the song I wrote for my retirement celebration, "My Child Is More Than A Test." There is no test that could possibly convey the wonderful abilities each student demonstrated on the stage! Unfortunately, we still have people in higher places who think a student, a teacher, a school, and a community should be judged primarily on one test.

Then, I went to The Garage in Columbus to listen to a long-time friend, Tim Halcomb, perform with The Rain Chorus Band. They were celebrating twenty-six years as a band. It is not very often a group can stay together that long. And, they perform mostly their own songs while incorporating a few classic tunes like "Leaving On A Jet Plane" and "Blowin' In The Wind." The crowd was very receptive and responsive. Tim and I were able to talk a little during the band's break. He talked about his music journey and the importance of pursuing dreams whether in music or another field.

Yes, there is talent all around us, within each of us. For this Thanksgiving, I am going to express my thankfulness for living in a community that recognizes it and gives people different ways to share it!