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Vermont's best asset: youth

There were two large well-designed handdrawn "Welcome: Rusty the Logger" signs taped to the entrance doors at the Walden School. I was there to work with 7th and 8th grade students on writing and filming television commercials.

As I arrived at the rural school, each student gave me a firm handshake with direct-eye contact as they introduced themselves by name.

The students broke into five groups of three to four students.

Their assignment was for the content of the commercials to promote positive youth body image. I would work with each group for 10 minutes, helping with script points, blocking, and taping, and anything else I felt would be interesting or instructive.

The teachers had a firm grasp on their game plan, and the students followed their instructions without a whimper. They came to their sessions well prepared, with solid concepts that were fully fleshed out into strong scripts. They had thought the blocking through, gathered appropriate props and wardrobe, and memorized their lines. And they performed with confidence, heads up, voices loud, totally committed to their role. To a student, the work was impressive.

Best of all, the morning was full of great fun and a hefty amount of laughter. Even a blind man could see everyone had a great time.

After the commercials were shot, I did a 45-minute presentation for grades K-8. The administration urged me to include content about underage substance use, bullying, and positive body image.

I presented the body of the talk, then spun a basketball on my finger, made my muscle burp, called to stage and had fun with a couple of 5-year-olds, took questions, and finished with a song while playing guitar. More than a dozen parents and family members attended.

What a fun mid-morning we all had up at the Walden School. That's the K-8 Walden School, Walden, Vt. - where adults and kids, our politicians call "ordinary," call home.

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