Opening up the world in Washington
Last week, I ran out of room and couldn’t tell you about Mike Tassone. I ran into Mike and his mom, Debbie, in the bank one day, and something about him made me stop in my tracks and take some time to talk to him.
I’m used to seeing that so-special determined glint in my daughter’s eyes, so I instantly recognized it in Mike’s. What makes this so unusual is the guy will turn 17 on Sept. 23, and he’s already got a strong grip on what he wants to do with his life.
Mike was born and raised right here in Nevada County with two older brothers – Chris, 20 and Matt, 18. He attended Nevada Union High School for a while but decided he’d be better off in the Wolf Creek Independent Study Program. By dang, he was right; he graduated from high school at the tender age of 16.
When I met him, he was working out his finances because he was just about to leave for a one-year course at Recording Engineering College in Los Angeles. Once that’s completed, he goes on to an internship at a recording studio in that area. By that time, he’ll be experienced enough to fulfill his dream: make good music sound better and great music even greater.
All of this before he ever sees 21. Need I say that his mother is exceedingly proud of her son? Mike, I wish you all the success in the world … people like you find it, too.
Down here at Washington School, teacher Pete Milano is busy opening up the world to his students, and maybe putting a glint in their eyes, too. His students are first-graders Coral, Derrick and Rebecca, all 6 years old and all busy learning to blend three- and four-letter words and add single-digit numbers. That’s challenging work for 6-year-olds, but teacher’s assistant Janet Romero is there for them every day.
There is no one in grades two, three, four and five. Amy, 11, is in sixth grade, and then we skip to eighth-graders Kayla, Katie, JT and Kay, all 13. Yes, you can see we have only nine students in our little country school, all of whom are getting an education worthy of a private school, heh heh.
Mr. Pete is setting up the last Friday of the month as a family day, with an activity for the students and their parents. Next Friday, he’s planning on all the children going bowling in the morning and then the older students visiting the county courthouse in the afternoon. In early October, they’re going over to Grizzly Hill School for the day, where the big kids will be participating in the National and Presidential Fitness Program. Everybody has a blast at Grizzly Hill, meeting other kids their age and making some new friends.
The school staff likes to plan way ahead. They’re already preparing for the annual Halloween Extravaganza, and the Sharing Stew is scheduled for its usual time in November. In December, everyone is set to attend Foothill Theater’s “A Christmas Story.”
Local resident and esteemed town Mayor Philip Copening comes in twice a week to give music lessons. Yoga teacher Chrissy Howell teaches one hour each to the first-graders and then the upper-grade kids.
Sam Barber comes in once a week as a parent/guardian volunteer to teach dance and movement and Reid Luhman, our tech specialist, is here on Wednesdays. On the third Wednesday of each month he’s geared up to introduce the computer to any resident who’s curious about it, and to give assistance and instruction to those who are a bit further along.
Vivian Herron is a longtime resident of the town of Washington whose column appears on Saturdays. You can write her in care of The Union, 464 Sutton Way, Grass Valley, 95945.
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