June 18 • 03:29 AM

Young people worth talking about

February 10, 2010
Editor's note: The following guest column was submitted by Dan Russell. A lifelong area resident, Russell, 67, lives in Lapeer.

Recently I was listening to a sports talk show called 'The Ticket' hosted by Mike Valenti and Terry Foster. They expound on various topics, not always just sports, and I can disagree with them by yelling at the radio and be comforted in the knowledge that I told them off and smugly put them in their place.

This particular day they did what they are paid to do I guess; they got under my skin and Valenti got me fired up. He claimed young people today wouldn't work and want everything handed to them. He said they were lazy and he was referring to all young people! I couldn't get through on the phone to vent my anger at his prejudice toward our youth so I decided to point out some youngsters that don't fit his mold. Whether or not he reads this, I may never know. But to do a blanket condemnation of a group of people is an age-old problem and he hasn't made any progress with that type of thinking.

The solid citizens who make for a good society are all around us and it's no different with the young kids. I am an old retiree who doesn't get out much, but I can name a number of them and I can feel good about growing old and turning over the reins to our youth.

Let me name a few, and I'll bet that anybody who takes a minute can come up with 20 "good kids" and feel bad about having to limit their list to 20.

•Allyssa Mazur-Batistoni, 15-years-old, a sophomore at Lapeer East. She plays soccer and runs cross country. she does babysitting and helps her mom with a 3-year-old little sister. She is pointing to Michigan State and a career as an elementary teacher. She serves on a leadership panel at school called Omni One to help solve problems and is in the National Honor Society. Not a bad start for a 10th grader—plus she's great to be around.

•Courtney Baldwin, 18, graduated from Capac; now a freshman at St. Clair Community College. Courtney played basketball and volleyball at Capac and was accepted at Michigan State, however her finances prevented her from attending there. Not to be denied, she works two jobs—Lucky's and McDonald's—to pay for her education. She is a criminal justice major with the goal of being a probation officer. She always has a grin and a friendly word and she works and studies untold hours per week so she can eventually help others. Where in this paragraph can you say 'lazy?'

•George Pittenturf, 21. Just a regular guy who works two jobs, likes to bowl and always has a minute to say hi. The kind of guy we refer to as the backbone of society. He is always ready to help somebody and does it with a grin. He is planning on going into the Army this spring. George doesn't ask society for anything, he just contributes to it.

•Amanda VanDamme, 28. A single mom of two, she works full time as a pharmacy assistant and attends Central Michigan University. She will obtain her business administration degree in about a year. Busy beyond belief, I have never heard her complain. Well, okay, she doesn't have time to gripe! She juggles her job, her family and her education and does it with a pleasant attitude. She will make an excellent CEO somewhere in the future.

•Austin Tackmann, 17, and John Hanson, 19. These two young men were at my place for a summer picnic four years ago. When they arrived with Austin's mom and dad I was a bit concerned because there were no other kids their age. Within minutes they hauled out a football and began tossing it around. Shortly they had most of the men (me excluded, the age thing, you know) involved. They played football for about three hours, then the two of them helped all the little kids with their games, acting as judges, referees or big brother-types. Never a peep about being bored or "too cool" for such activity, they were great kids to have around. What a pleasant surprise it was to flip on the tv for the State High School Football Championships, find Lowell playing in the finals and these two guys on the team. Even more pleasant was to watch them win. Good things to happen to good people. John has been accepted at U of M and Austin is considering Northwood and playing football there. Good luck, men!

In the next installment I'll continue my list of area young people who are worth mentioning, and who disprove the theory I heard 'The Ticket' guys talking about.

Castle Creek
06 - 18 - 19
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