ETCETERA - Centenarian hosts friends for 103rd birthday

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Never driving a car or flying in an airplane has not kept Helen Morris from soaring through her first century on Earth.

The Walla Walla woman celebrated her 103rd birthday March 13, entertaining friends in her home, feting her day with laughter, cards and gifts and passing out the cake and punch herself, said Floralyn Taylor, current secretary at Central Christian Church.

Born March 13, 1909, in Milton, Helen grew up in Milton-Freewater with a brother and sister whom she's outlived. Helen moved to Walla Walla to work at several area businesses over the years, said friend Barbara Daniel.

A longtime Central Christian Church member and former secretary, Helen played piano and helped with all kinds of services there, Floralyn said.

The woman who still uses a rotary-style telephone has just dialed back on some of her activities in the last year, including hauling her groceries home on foot. But at age 100, she could be found walking to the Odd Fellows Home from her place on Sumach Street to "visit the elderly," friend Richard Daniel said.

Helen is quite independent and really fun, Floralyn said.

"She played piano beautifully by ear until she couldn't hear well. She never missed a note. She is just the neatest lady, living in her own house, doing her own stuff," Floralyn said.

Helen's niece and nephew-in-law, Mary Ann and Jeff Miller, reside in Eugene.

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Touchet High School seniors plan to visit Sunriver, a resort community in central Oregon, on their senior trip.

Between the hiking, striking views of the high desert and Cascade mountains, golfing, bike paths, horses, canoeing, kayaking, racquet and tennis opportunities, the Sunriver Nature Center and Observatory and the High Desert Museum, there's plenty to do.

Touchet senior and ASB member Alexandra Nasburg-Sasser said she and fellow seniors will raise funds for this trip with their annual senior carnival at 6 p.m. March 30.

Proceeds from this event will also go toward graduation expenses and a class picture to be presented to the school.

The family friendly carnival will feature a variety of activities, including low-cost games with chances to win prizes and baked goods, a cake walk and bingo.

Seniors currently need donations and business sponsors to assist and make this event a fun one for all ages, Alexandra said. For more information contact her at 301-0981 or Addison Doering at 301-7785.

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Cadet Capt. Rishi Patel and fellow Walla Walla High School JROTC members Karri Mickelson, Kyle Jameson and Sarah Jameson will represent Wa-Hi JROTC at the All-Service Air Rifle Championship, according to Senior Army Instructor Lt. Col. Bill Bialozor.

"As hot as our students are shooting right now, we have a solid chance at winning the whole thing," he said. "We are shooting higher scores than we did at Army Nationals."

The JROTC shooting team competed in an NRA offhand shoot in February at Spokane. Sarah, Caitlyn Lasseigne and Allison Juergensen won the match. Sarah placed third overall and won the bronze medal.

In early March at the Cascade Mountain League Championship Drill Meet, the Precision Shooting Team won its match with five of the top six medal awardees being Wa-Hi shooters, according to a release in the online Walla Walla Public Schools Week in Review. The Sporter Team placed second with three shooters earning awards. The Precision Team won the overall league championship for the year.

Sarah earned an invitation to attend the Junior Olympics offhand shoot in Colorado Springs in April and the school's Sporter Team earned an invitation to the Three Position Junior Olympics shoot in Alabama in June.

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That standup comedian you've read about here who riffs on his sleepwalking while in a Walla Walla motel, is a winner.

Mike Birbiglia's film, "Sleepwalk With Me," premiered at the Sundance Film Festival where it won the audience award in the Next category. IFC Films acquired the comedy for release in several foreign territories and North America, according to a March 10 article by Josh L. Dickey on variety.com.

The "modestly budgeted indie follows the day-to-day indecisions and nocturnal perambulations of a commitment-phobic New Yorker, played by Birbiglia, who in real life suffers from REM sleep behavior disorder - sleepwalking - which caused him to run out of a second-story motel window while on tour in Walla Walla, Wash., resulting in 33 stitches in his leg," Josh said.

Lauren Ambrose, who appeared in "Wanderlust" and "Six Feet Under," co-stars as Mike's girlfriend. Her character must endure his nighttime misadventures, passive, noncommittal nature and tepid pursuit of a comedy career.

Mike based the film he directed on his one-man show. He co-wrote the script with Joe Birbiglia, Seth Barrish and Ira Glass, host of "This American Life."

"Variety film critic Peter Debruge called the laffer a ‘warm, perceptive debut' that should ‘launch Birbiglia in a big way.'"

It's also being screened at the South By Southwest Film Fest.

The article concludes with comments from Jonathan Sehring, president of Sundance Selects/IFC Films. "‘Sleepwalk With Me' is an utterly charming and funny film that we're thrilled to be releasing. It's not a secret that Mike Birbiglia is a funny guy, but this film will also establish him as a serious actor/writer/director."

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They may be in plain view or working behind the scenes, but no matter their roles, the 376 Walla Walla School District support employees make things happen to keep the entire operation running smoothly. Gov. Christine Gregoire declared March 12-16 as Classified Employees Week in recognition of their efforts.

Assistant Superintendent Laure Quaresma read a proclamation from the governor during the March 6 school board meeting, according to the Walla Walla Public Schools Week in Review. She emphasized that without the classified employees, they couldn't operate the schools.

The governor proclaimed, these "employees are involved in nearly every aspect of education, including maintaining school buildings and grounds, providing secretarial and clerical assistance, preparing and serving meals, providing safe transportation, keeping school facilities clean and orderly, assisting in the classroom, providing a secure environment and many other specialized services."

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The National Film Festival for Talented Youth accepted two films from Dan Calzaretta's seventh- and eighth-grade Pioneer Middle School Explorers class. NFFTY is the largest youth film festival in the world, reported the Walla Walla Public Schools Week in Review online.

The documentary "Bump in the Night," outlines work of Eastern Washington Paranormal, a group that seeks to identify and explain paranormal activity. It was produced by 12-year-old seventh-graders Oriana Golden and Amelia Mott, who will be among the youngest film makers at the festival.

Eighth-graders Cameron Bennett, Carlos Montalvo, Reilly Michener and Lucas Rassbach made the animated short "Imagination."

Just 200 films are culled from the 700 submitted for the NFFTY fest, which will be April 26-29 in Seattle. Dan has submitted films for the second year and last year a film was accepted into the festival.

Students under age 22 submit their works from across the United States and 20 other countries. Most films come from high school, college and film school students.

Pioneer will hold its own Student-Produced Independent Films For Youth film festival. SPIFFY fest will be from 4-8 p.m. May 19 in the Walla Walla High School auditorium, 800 Abbott Road. Students under age 19 are invited to submit films.

Submission deadline is April 20. Students interested in the festival are encouraged to check out sites.google.com/site/pioneerexplorers/ online

"We will publish a schedule with films and show times in late April," Dan said. "Please come by for some or all of the films. You will be amazed with the work done by these young film makers!"

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A young man traveling from Chicago to Oregon in 1970 found himself in Missoula, Mont., seeking repairs for his broken-down Volkswagen van.

Jim Caron auditioned for fun while there for a role in a local play and befriended actor Don Collins.

Over time as this duo worked together with a company of adults doing plays for children, they began to cast kids in such plays as "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs: and "Hansel and Gretel," which attracted hundreds of youngsters to auditions.

Their efforts became Missoula Children's Theatre, which strives to develop life skills in children through participation in the performing arts.

MCT's theater-in-residence program came to Walla Walla recently for a presentation of "The Wiz of the West," which tweaks the Frank L. Baum classic "The Wizard of Oz."

Green Park Elementary students performed such roles as Tinhorn, Lionel, Scared Crow, Dotty and little dog Mooch. "The Wiz" is a tale of Western adventure and personal discovery.

First the heroes tangled with Mad Dog's gang of bad, barkin', back-bitin' hounds employed by the meanest old witch in the West, Hawknose Halley. On their adventure, they run into brainless Buzzards and terrifying Tarantulas.

"Singin' Coyotes help move things along while Ma and Pa Munch and the rest of the Munch Kin point the way to Dr. Ozzy, the Wizard of Frontier Medicine. ‘Which way is that? Why Westward, o' course.'"

Kristie Coleman, Green Park PTA vice president, and Michelle Carpenter, a fifth-grade teacher, coordinated the visit this year. Principal Mike Lambert housed the Missoula directors.

Michael McGill conceived and wrote "The Wiz of the West" as well as its music and lyrics.

Sanfrancisco.broadwayworld.com reported that "Within each MCT cast, girls and boys are equal; the disabled become able; the shy experiment with bravery; the slow are rehearsed to perfection; and the gifted become part of the whole.

"The lesson they learn is that all of them are necessary for the show to go on. Few arenas exist where responsibility is taught and learned so clearly. MCT provides a unique opportunity to learn the lessons of group dynamics while excelling as an individual-a lesson from art that carries into life."

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Mother's Day falls on May 13 this year. To honor their role, the U-B intends to produce a feature story about the influence of mothers on the lives of local residents whose mothers have preceded them in death.

The article intends to use parts of letters you would write your mother, a brief bio and photos, if available. If you could have one more visit with your mom, what would you share?

What do you miss most about her, what life lessons did you learn that you carry with you, what memories sustain your life? How do you carry on in her absence?

Please send submissions via email to annieeveland@wwub.com. Call 526-8313 for more details.
Annie Charnley Eveland can be reached at annieeveland@wwub.com or 526-8313.

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