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EHS senior writes book to help ocean animals, Indonesian kids

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By Deb Hurley Brobst

Leah Huiting, a senior at Evergreen High School, has many passions in her life.

She’s passionate about ocean life, Third World countries, scuba diving, helping others and the Girl Scouts.

For Huiting, the question was how to bring all of these passions together into a project that would allow her to receive the Girl Scouts Gold Award. The award, the highest in Girl Scouting, is similar to the Eagle Scout award in the Boy Scouts.

The culmination is a book she has written and published called “W.onders O.f W.ater,” or “WOW” for short. And the story of how this book came about will have you saying “Wow!”

Huiting read the book to third-graders at Bergen Valley Elementary School last week, and she donated a copy to the school’s library.

Huiting learned to scuba dive when she was 7, and she has scuba-dived around the world. “I have been able to seen the poverty both on the land and in the water,” Huiting said of her experiences.

A couple of years ago, she was scuba diving with her dad off the shores of Sulawesi, an island that is part of Indonesia. They stayed at a dive resort where island residents work.

She says staff members asked her to send supplies for the local school rather than tipping. So Huiting returned with a suitcase filled with paper, pencils, erasers and crayons.

She went to the school and asked the 34 children to draw pictures of the sea life found in the Pacific Ocean.

“This was the first time they had ever used crayons,” Huiting said. “I wanted them to draw pictures for me to teach them about ocean life and to make sure they actually used the supplies.”

Huiting brought the pictures back to Evergreen and wrote a story about Sebastian the sea turtle. The story, which is geared to children in first through third grade, tells how Sebastian wakes up one day to find that something is definitely wrong with the ocean. Ocean animals are dying, and he wants to find ways to help. The book ends with Sebastian asking children to help save the oceans and the animals there.

Huiting assembled the book using pictures drawn by the Indonesian children as the illustrations. She published the book about a month ago using a website called lulu.com.

Now she is selling the book to teach children about ocean life. She hopes to have it available in Evergreen bookstores soon.

She says proceeds will be used to send more supplies to the Indonesian school and to help fund the sea camp program at Evergreen Middle School.

“I really want to send the kids in Indonesia (swimming) goggles so they can open their eyes under water,” Huiting said. “These kids have never seen the ocean life that is so close to them.”

In the end, Huiting is raising awareness about the oceans, helping children in Indonesia and getting the Girl Scouts Gold Award in a couple of months.

Wow.

Mosser spells ‘levee’ to win Evergreen-area spelling bee

Evergreen Middle School sixth-grader Shane Mosser spelled “levee” to win the Evergreen mountain area spelling bee last week.

Mosser will now compete in the Colorado spelling bee March 14 in Denver.

Second place went to EMS sixth-grader Cori Mayer, and third place went to Bergen Valley fifth-grader Olivia Landers.

The principals from the schools involved — EMS, Bergen Valley, Parmalee and Wilmot — acted as judges, and the word pronouncer was Tammy Stortz, a retired Wilmot teacher.

According to Wilmot librarian Michele Bergeron-Coldsnow, the 16 participants went through 10 rounds of words before the finalists were selected.

Workshops help moms, teen daughters cope

Teenage girls and their friendships. Teenage girls and their moms.

Both topics can be tricky, and the owners of Bridges to Peace in Evergreen want to help moms and their middle-school-age daughters build good relationships.

They are hosting two workshops in March to help teen girls build strong friendships and maintain strong relationships with their moms.

Friendships will be on the agenda at the seminar geared specifically for fifth-grade girls and their moms. It is from 9:30 a.m. to noon Saturday, March 14, at Evergreen Lutheran Church, 5980 Highway 73. Cost is $40 per pair if you register by March 9 and $50 after that date.

Mothers and daughters transitioning to the teen years will be the topic for sixth- through eighth-grade girls and their moms during spring break from 12:30 to 3:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 31, in Marshdale. Cost is $45 per pair by March 21 and $55 after that date.

“The workshop on friendships came out of a conversation with a mother (of a fifth-grader) who was concerned about the kinds of challenges her daughter faces in terms of relationships,” said Sheila Kelly, an owner of Bridges to Peace and one of the instructors.

As girls get older and friendships become more important, the dynamics become riddled with subtle power issues and cliquey behaviors, she said.

At the workshop, Kelly, who has worked in youth activism for many years, and her partner Heather Kassman, a counselor, will provide participants with information about building solid relationships. Then the moms and girls will split into separate groups to share stories about friendships. By the end, Kelly and Kassman hope that the moms and daughters will be able to talk frankly about issues they have had with friends.

At the moms-and-daughters communication workshop, Kelly and Kassman will address communication issues, how to provide support, and how both the mom and daughter want to be treated in the relationship.

“The mother-daughter connection is central to many families and can be volatile and engaging, yet intimate at the same time,” Kelly said. “It's important for girls and their moms to have time to talk about issues, concerns, fears and feelings that arise during this time of transition.”

According to the website, Bridges to Peace works with youths and adults to create positive change by emphasizing collaborative cultures, personal accountability and open communication. It provides workshops for children, parents, teachers and the community.

For information about Bridges to Peace or the workshops, visit www.bridges2peace.com. To register for either workshop, e-mail Kassman at Kasskell2@aol.com.

Have tips about schools in Evergreen? Contact Evergreen resident Deb Hurley Brobst at deb@evergreenco.com.