Writing about Celebrities · 4 July 2015

Austin Jenckes

I feel like a sleazy journalist. One without any morals or compunction. But if that is what it takes to get a few more visitors to my website, so be it.

Actually, I do not really feel sleazy. After all, when I write about people, I usually send them an advanced copy to get their feedback. I want people to know that I have written about them. Still, it is amazing when I think about all the readers I get when I actually write about celebrities. Even local ones.


Recently, I wrote about Linda, our beloved head secretary, retiring. My Facebook statistics said I reached over 300 people with that one story. Then, I wrote about Austin Jenckes, our hometown celebrity singer, singing at graduation. My statistics said I reached over 400 people with that one.

Normally, I get my two real readers (thanks M&M), plus a few family members, and some unsuspecting folks who must wander into my domain on accident. So I am happy when I have more than a few people read my stuff. Needless to say, I am ecstatic when I find that over 300 people read something I wrote.

So I decided that I just need to write about famous people.

Actually, I thought that long ago, but I do not know many famous people and I have not really asked my readers help me find some. And since I do not get out much, I am sure not to meet many in the near future. Especially since I am not planning to join the ranks of the paparazzi or tabloid writers. Besides, I cannot become a sleazy journalist (as opposed to the non-sleazy type) just because I might get a few more readers.


Although, the idea is intriguing.

Actually, the idea that is intriguing has nothing to do with being sleazy. Like I said, it has to do with writing about people. And they do not need to be famous. After all, I have always believed that everybody has a story.

I tend to like the stories where lives change or intersect other lives due to some intervention by God. I also like to find out what makes people tick. I like to just get to know people on more than a superficial level. And I like to find out why they do what they do to affect other people in positive ways.

Which is why I wrote about Linda and Austin. They are people who have affected others with their smiles and their songs. (Most of Linda’s songs seem to be sung by The Beatles.) They are people who have touched our hearts in ways that we may not even fully comprehend.

The stories that I have written about people seem to be the ones more than just my few readers read. They are the ones that seem to affect people the most. And they are the stories that are the most fun to write as well.

I just wish I knew more celebrities. Not only would I get more visitors to my website, I could feel more like a sleazy journalist. Or at least more like a storyteller and maybe a real journalist.

© 2015 Michael T. Miyoshi

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Graduation and a Concert · 27 June 2015

Austin Jenckes

It is amazing what happens when you do nice things for others. Then again, as you sow, so shall you reap.

The Cedarcrest High School graduating class of 2015 should understand this sowing and reaping concept as it was granted a rare treat at the graduation ceremony because of it. Not only did the graduates get to hear some great speeches, including the keynote address by our own Zach Pittis, they got a concert as well. Sure the concert was by a hometown celebrity who likes to give back to his community, but the story behind the two-song concert is what tugs at my heart.

When our principal announced to all present that there was a special treat for graduation, he said something that piqued my interest, but that I did not understand at the time. He said that Austin Jenckes was here to sing a song to keep a promise. Like everybody else, I was excited about the song.

Austin is a hometown celebrity from Duvall. He graduated from Cedarcrest in 2006 and was a finalist on the TV show, The Voice. Anybody who hears him would agree with his website, which says he has “the voice of an honest soul.” But Austin Jenckes has more than the voice of an honest soul. He has something more important than that. He has character. He actually has an honest soul.

It was great to hear that honest soul. Austin sang one song and then asked if he could sing another. The graduates and all present agreed with their applause and would have been happy to postpone the diplomas if he had sung all night. But he just sang the two songs. And even if everybody there was a bit biased toward our hometown celebrity, he wowed the crowd.

Austin Jenckes

Now lest you think that the appearance of a hometown celebrity is an everyday occurrence (even in Duvall), think again. Austin and his lovely bride (of nearly a year) reside in Nashville, Tennessee. He did not just need to hop in his pickup and go down to the graduation like most of the folks in the valley. He had to climb into his truck in Tennessee, get into an airplane, head to his mom’s house to get dressed up and visit a spell, and then go down to the ceremony. He left the very next day.

When I heard that, I was amazed. Austin came clear across the country to sing two songs. Sure, he got to see his family for a short time, but all those miles… There had to be a story there somewhere.

Our athletic director, Jason, filled me in. He told me a story about character.

Apparently, Jason recruited a few of our graduates who were part of the football program to help out with setting up and tearing down the venue for Austin’s wedding last summer. After the reception they were there taking down tents and putting things away in the dark. And in the pouring rain. Austin offered to pay them, but they insisted they were just giving back to the community like Austin had always done. Since the boys would not take any compensation, Austin said that if there was any way possible, he would come back to sing at their graduation.

And sing he did.

While the two-song concert was incredible, the story behind the songs was even more so. Here was a young man trying to make it in the music business taking two days out of his life just to fulfill a promise he made to a few young men. He spent money and time not to promote himself but to give back. It would have been far cheaper to insist the boys take some money and be done with it. Instead, he made a promise and kept it. By singing a couple songs.

I have hope in this world of cynicism and broken promises. I have hope because of a few former football players. The ones who gave of their time and energy to help a brother out. And the one who sings and keeps his promises. They give me hope that there are still people in this world who have character. There are still people in this world who give to each other expecting nothing in return. And there are still people in this world who keep their word.

The Cedarcrest class of 2015 and the attendees at the graduation ceremony will always remember Austin Jenckes performing for them. And whether Austin wanted anybody to know the story behind it or not, when they find out, it will make the night even more special.

As for me, I will always remember a few young men with character who do nice things for each other. Just because. And I will remember that special night when the hometown celebrity flew across the country to sing a couple songs. Just because he had a promise.

I know that you reap what you sow. Still, it is amazing what happens when you do nice things for others.

© 2015 Michael T. Miyoshi

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Thank You Linda · 20 June 2015

What do you say about somebody who has taken care of you for twenty years? Happy Mother’s Day would almost work if it was the right season (after all, she has been my school mom for so long). And Thank You is not enough. But it is a start.

Thank you, Linda. For being my school mom. For helping me get my legs under me when I first started teaching all those years ago. For being the smiling face that has greeted me in the morning practically every day. For doing those little things that make my life easier.

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

For those who do not work in a school, especially a high school, Linda is the person who makes things hum along smoothly. She is, rather was (actually, at this writing still is for a few more days), the head secretary at Cedarcrest High School in Duvall, Washington. She has lived in the community for her whole life and has been the face of our high school since it opened. (Actually, even before that when the high school and middle school were on the same campus in Carnation.) And now she is leaving.

Linda is retiring.

There are many of us who wonder what we will do without Linda. We wonder who will help us with our forms. Who will help us get our reimbursements filled out properly. Who will take care of us when we need something that only she knows where they are. We wonder how the school will function without its head. Sorry, Clarence (he is the principal), but we all know that Linda is the one who makes things go. And as you have rightly said so many times, we just need to ask Linda when we do not know what else to do.

Now that Linda is retiring, some of us will need to do more. We cannot just ask her where this is or how to do that. We cannot just think that Linda will take care of something for us. We cannot just rely on our school mom being there for us anymore.

I have heard it said that people make about as much impression on an organization as a finger in a glass of water. If that is true, the finger has been in this glass of water for many years inside a freezer. Linda’s impact is indelible. And even though she is going to be replaced, her indelibleness is where it matters most anyway. In our hearts.

The thing about Linda is that she has been the mother hen to not just the students, but to the teachers and other staff members at our school. She is an educator. She is a mentor. She is a confidante. She is a co-conspirator. She is a great friend (digitally and in person). She is the glue that holds it all together. She is the school mom to us all.

Talk about big shoes to fill. Linda’s are huge. (I am sure she is sorry about that.) But when the new school year starts and the phones start to ring and the kids and teachers start to return, Linda will be at home enjoying herself. And her replacement will wonder what is happening. That is when the rest of us will remember Linda. We will not compare the new with the old. We will not say, “Linda did this,” except to help instruct and guide our new head secretary. We will remember Linda’s example and be mentors and friends and that smiling face.

Linda is retiring. And even though she will still be right down the street, we will all miss her. Not just because of all the things she did for us, but because of who she is. These words are not enough. And thank you is inadequate to express our gratitude for who you are in our lives. Still, we say it.

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

Congratulations on your retirement, Linda. Thank you for being part of my life. Thank you for being my school mom and for taking care of me for these past twenty years.

© 2015 Michael T. Miyoshi

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