students

My niece, Liz Masterson is a teacher of Journalism and English at Kelly Walsh High School in Casper, Wyoming. She is a dedicated teacher, who loves her job and her students, and they love her too. She isn’t an easy teacher, but the students learn from her, and they work hard for her, because she draws the best out of them.

This school year began normally, but as we all know, it has progressed in an anything but normal manner. Due to the COVID19 Pandemic, the schools have been closed since March 13th. Spring Break was supposed to have started on March 30th, but of course, it has been closed for two weeks already. In reality, the teachers and administration are working very hard, albeit at home, to prepare to finish this seriously unconventional school year. Since moving into the new part of Kelly Walsh, Liz’s students have been using Google Classroom for parts of their classes. That is most definitely a good thing, because it is Google Classroom that will be put into action to finish the school year. It will, however, be used differently than they are used to. Still, it is a form of remote learning, and it will allow the students and teachers to finish the school year. It has to be done, because you can’t just pass a generation of students with three months less class time than they should have.

For Liz, this unique situation is like being on hold or in limbo. Teachers are used to having their summer off, so two and a half months of no school feels normal, but summer is planned for…prepared for. This is nothing like that. She feels at loose ends. She misses her students and the classroom discussions they had. She misses the co-workers she had. She misses the sports, which she took pictures of for the annual, mostly because she is the biggest sports fan ever!! I think they were happy to have Liz take pictures of the sports, because she caught the essence of the plays. That’s because she saw the game from the mind of the players.

There are so many regrets that come with an unfinished school year, especially for the Seniors. This is their last year. so many things that they will never be able to do again…prom, graduation, the last part of being the top class. In sports, they miss the scouts, and possible chances at sports scholarships. For teachers, there are regrets too. Teachers are destined to teach, and to suddenly not be able to be stand before the class and see their faces as they get what is being taught, to see their smiling faces…it defeats the whole concept of classroom teaching. This generation of students and their teachers can never get back the last three months of the 2020 school year, and that is a loss indeed. Nevertheless, today is Liz’s birthday, and I know that her students wish her the best, as do we, her family. And while this is a strange school year, I hope it will still be rewarding. Happy birthday Liz!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

The White Rose was a non-violent, intellectual resistance group in the Third Reich led by a group of students including Hans and Sophie Scholl. The students attended the University of Munich. Their goal was to promote awareness using an anonymous leaflets and a graffiti campaign that called for active opposition to the Nazi regime. Of course, while the actions were anonymous, the Third Reich had spies everywhere. The activities of The White Rose started in Munich on June 27, 1942, and ended with the arrest of the core group by the Gestapo on February 18, 1943. The core group, as well as other members and supporters of the group who carried on distributing the pamphlets, were sentenced to death or imprisonment in show trials by the Nazi People’s Court (Volksgerichtshof).

Hans and Sophie Scholl and Christoph Probst were among the members of the core group. They were captured on February 18, 1943. During the trial, Sophie interrupted the judge multiple times, but she was ignored. No defendants were given any opportunity to speak. They had no way to defend themselves, and were found guilty at the “trial.” They were executed by guillotine four days after their arrest, on February 22, 1943. The group had only been active for eight months, they had never committed a violent act, and yet they were put to death. Hitler’s regime considered them more of a threat for pamphlets and paintings, than if the had run around shooting people.

The group wrote, printed, and initially distributed their pamphlets in the greater Munich region. As the movement grew, secret carriers brought copies to other cities, mostly in the southern parts of Germany. The White Rose authored a total of six leaflets, which were multiplied and spread. In all, about 15,000 copies were printed. They denounced the Nazi regime’s crimes and oppression, and called for resistance. They openly denounced the persecution and mass murder of the Jews, in their second leaflet. By the time of their arrest, the members of the White Rose were just about to establish contacts with other German resistance groups like the Kreisau Circle or the Schulze-Boysen/Harnack group of the Red Orchestra. Today, the White Rose is well known both within Germany and worldwide. Sadly the movement ended almost before it could get started.

Book burning is the ritual destruction by fire of books or other written materials. This practice is usually carried out in a public place, so as to further destroy any sense of control of one’s own life. The burning of books represents an element of censorship and usually proceeds from a cultural, religious, or political opposition to the materials in question. Sometimes those burning the books think they are “protecting” the people from something they deem to be evil, but more often, the books simply don’t agree with the agenda of the controlling group. Such was the case with the most famous book burning, which took place under the Nazi regime on May 10, 1933. The May 1933 book burning in Nazi Germany was preceded in nineteenth century Germany. In 1817, German student associations (Burschenschaften) chose the 300th anniversary of Luther’s 95 Theses to hold a festival at the Wartburg, a castle in Thuringia where Luther had sought sanctuary after his excommunication. The students were demonstrating for a unified country. Germany was then a patchwork of states. During the protest, the students burned anti-national and reactionary texts and literature which the students viewed as “Un-German” in nature or content. I wonder if they had any idea that the freedom to protest was the very thing they were looking to take away in the future Germany.

Then, in 1933, Nazi German authorities, decided to synchronize professional and cultural organizations with Nazi ideology and policy (Gleichschaltung). Nazi Minister for Popular Enlightenment and Propaganda, Joseph Goebbels, spearheaded an effort to bring German arts and culture in line with Nazi goals. The government began to remove cultural organizations of Jewish and other officials who were alleged to be politically suspect or who performed or created art works which Nazi ideologues labeled “degenerate.” Goebbels also had a strong ally in the National Socialist German Students’ Association (Nationalsozialistischer Deutscher Studentenbund), so he used them to bring the literary phase into being. German university students were at the forefront of the early Nazi movement, and in the late 1920s. Many of them filled the ranks of various Nazi formations. The ultra-nationalism and antisemitism of middle-class, secular student organizations had been intense and vocal for decades. After World War I, many students opposed the Weimar Republic (1919–1933) and found in National Socialism a suitable vehicle for their political discontent and hostility.

On April 6, 1933, the Nazi German Student Association’s Main Office for Press and Propaganda proclaimed a nationwide “Action against the Un-German Spirit,” to end in a literary purge or “cleansing” (Säuberung) by fire. Local chapters were to supply the press with releases and commissioned articles, offer blacklists of “un-German” authors, sponsor well-known Nazi figures to speak at public gatherings, and negotiate for radio broadcast time. Then, in a symbolic act of ominous significance, on May 10, 1933, university students burned upwards of 25,000 volumes of “un-German” books, presaging an era of state censorship and control of culture. On the evening of May 10, in most university towns, right-wing students marched in torchlight parades “against the un-German spirit.” The scripted rituals called for high Nazi officials, professors, university rectors, and university student leaders to address the participants and spectators. In Berlin, some 40,000 persons gathered in the Opernplatz to hear Joseph Goebbels delivered a fiery address: “No to decadence and moral corruption!” He went on to say, “Yes to decency and morality in family and state! I consign to the flames the writings of Heinrich Mann, Ernst Gläser, Erich Kästner.” Among the authors whose books student leaders burned that night were well-known socialists such as Bertolt Brecht and August Bebel; the founder of the concept of communism, Karl Marx; critical “bourgeois” writers like the Austrian playwright Arthur Schnitzler; and “corrupting foreign influences,” among them American author Ernest Hemingway. I don’t agree with some of these writings, but I also don’t agree with their destruction. People can make up their own minds.

Prior to December 1, 1958, fire drills were not normal procedure, and in fact, were not held at all. No one knew how important fire drills were, even though they knew the dangers of fire, and just how deadly it was. Mainly, they did not realize just how important fire drills were to the safe evacuation of people from a burning building. Prior to that day, when there was a fire, those who knew about the fire ran, and most didn’t think about raising the alarm to let others know. This was especially true in schools, where in reality, fire drills were exponentially more important, because the drill made an emergency seem like just another drill, and could be carried out, before the smell of smoke even arrived in the rooms of the school. Prior to December 1, 1958, the schools had an alarm, but all too often, setting it off was the last thing on the minds of the people in charge…mostly due to their own panic. Later it would be determined that with practice, an emergency situation could be handled, and the people evacuated quickly, if the procedure was simply a practiced maneuver that everyone knew and automatically executed.

So, what led up to the fire drill revelation? Basically, it was due to a fire at a grade school in Chicago that killed 90 students on this day in 1958. Our Lady of Angels School was operated by the Sisters of Charity in Chicago. In 1958, there were well over 1,200 students enrolled at the school, which occupied a large, old building. In those days, little was done in the way of fire prevention. The building did not have any sprinklers and no regular preparatory drills were conducted. Those two factors combined, led to disaster when a small fire broke out in a pile of trash in the basement, and quickly burned out of control.

It is thought that the fire began about 2:30 pm. Within minutes, several teachers on the first floor smelled it. These teachers led their classes outside, but because it was never practiced, no one thought to sound a general alarm. The school’s janitor discovered the fire at 2:42 pm, and shouted for the alarm to be rung…but by then, at least ten precious minutes had passed since the fire started. Time to evacuate was quickly running out. Unfortunately, the janitor was either not heard or the alarm system did not operate properly. The students in the classrooms on the second floor were completely unaware of the rapidly spreading flames beneath them. It took a few more minutes for the fire to reach the second floor. By this time, panic had overtaken the students and teachers. Some panic stricken students jumped out windows to escape. I can only imagine the horror the firefighters must have felt as the roll up to the scene to find students hanging from the second floor windows, as they ran to try to catch them as they fell. Although the firefighters who were arriving on the scene tried to catch them, some were injured. Firefighters also tried to get ladders up to the windows. One quick-thinking nun had her students crawl under the smoke and roll down the stairs, where they were rescued. Other classes remained in their rooms, praying for help. There was no protocol…no routine…and for 90 students and 3 nuns, no chance of survival. Several hours later, when the fire was finally extinguished, the authorities found the 90 students and 3 nuns in the ashes of the classrooms. Sadly, it is the horrific “lessons” that trigger the quickest move to change, and this fire was no different. These days, when students hear the alarm…which is automatic when smoke is detected, they line up, and leave the school in a calm and orderly manner. Fire drills save lives.

My niece, Liz Masterson, doesn’t realize what an inspiration she is to a lot of people, or if she does, she is just so not conceited, that she would never acknowledge that she knows. She is a journalism teacher at Kelly Walsh High School, and as such, she also teaches English, and puts out the yearbook. Her younger English students may or may not realize how much she does for them, but her journalism students, and the students she works with on the yearbook, know very well, how special she is. The friendships she has made with those students, and yes, I say friendships, have and will last for as long as they live. How many people keep in touch with and even spend time with their teachers after high school? Not very many, if any, but Liz is special. She treats them like the amazing people she knows they can become, when they are still students, and later when they start out in their lives, they remember that she was always there for them…cheering them on. There is no greater tribute a teacher can receive than to have a student say that if it wasn’t for this teacher, I might not have lived to my full potential. Liz has been that teacher to her students, and they have told her so.

Another part of Liz’s job as the journalism teacher, is photographer, and she is an amazing photographer. She captures such precious moments in the students’ lives. Everything from sports, to team pictures, to dances, and other functions, have been captured by Liz’s lens…and in perfect detail. She has also taken many of the Senior pictures for the yearbook, including the family members who have gone through the ranks of high school. She has also taken many other family pictures, and recently, the pictures for our church’s website. Her photographic talents are endless and ever expanding. Liz stays up on techniques and styles, and so her photography changes with the times…becoming more amazing.

Liz has many interests, not the least of which is traveling, and of course, her babies…puppies, Luka, Scout, and Buffy, and her cat, Piper. She mothers those babies just like you would a child, and they love her like she is their mom. It is a beautiful relationship. They love her as much as she loves them. Liz has a well rounded, happy life, and she is an amazing inspiration to all who know her. Today is Liz’s birthday. Happy birthday Liz!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Liz and EmmaSwap DayMy niece, Elizabeth Masterson is a journalism teacher at Kelly Walsh High School in Casper, Wyoming. She also takes all the photos for, and designs the yearbook every year. Her photographs have given her so many opportunities over the years. She now has her own photography buisness and she takes senior pictures, wedding pictures, as well as pregnancy photos and family photos. She catches action photos in sports in such and interesting way. You feel like you are standing right there with her. There is a lot to be said for having a talent that people find out about. Her photography sessions have steadily increased, which is very nice for her.

Liz is a teacher, but she is not your typical teacher. Liz is also a friend to many of her students. She has friends from probably every year she has been a teacher. Her students judt don’t go away after high school. They keep in touch. I have run into a couple of my teachers over the years…even favorite teachers, but they are aquaintances now, not friends that I stay in touch with or do things with. Not so Liz…but then, she is not your typical teacher. Liz participates in things with the students, like swap day, when two of her students decided to come looking like her, and so she came to school dressed like them.

Liz doesn’t mind getting dirty when the situation warrants it either. When the 5K Mud Run event was going on, she got on a team, and got a whole lot dirtier than I ever would have. I suppose it might be fun, but then, I simply can’t imagine being covered with mud, so…maybe not. Nevertheless, Liz had no issue with it, and I think that’s very cool.

Liz is all about family. She is very close to her mom and her siblings. She spends a lot of time with them, and photographs them often. Her pictures have helped me with my stories more than once. As to her own little family, well Liz is mom to four babies…pet babies that is. She has 3 cute little dogs, and a cat who lets everyone else know that she is the boss. The dogs never stood a chance agains the cat…I mean, she has claws, The BabiesDirty Girland she will use them. So they have learned to get along and so has she, but she doesn’t put up with any guff from those dogs. Liz is the typical mom to her babies, even to the point of not wanting them to spend too much time alone, so sometimes, they go to the babysitter’s, ie Grandma’s House. My sister, Cheryl has adapted herself to having mulitple pets, or should I say multiple additional pets, at her house from time to time, because Liz is a big softie when it comes to her pets…whether she admits it or not. Today is Liz’s birthday. Happy birthday Liz!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

ElizabethLiz and SiaraOver the years, my niece, Liz Masterson has been our go to person for many different types of things, but probably none of them bigger than for photography and videos. Liz is a Journalism and English teacher at Kelly Walsh High School, which is her alma mater, by the way, and that is just the beginning of her many talents. Liz heads up the Kelly Kall and the annual yearbook too. She and her yearbook staff members have put together some of the most amazing yearbooks ever seen. Every year, our whole family looks forward to taking a look at them…even if we don’t know anyone who is going to Kelly Walsh that year. They are just too good not to have a look at.

Liz is definitely multitalented. She has loved sports since she was old enough to speak, and she can sit and discuss just about any sport with anyone. The truth be told, she could have easily been a sports writer or an announcer, but she had a calling to teach, and her students will tell you that they are all very glad she chose to teach, because she is a phenomenal teacher, and one they are friends with for life.

But, one of the best talents Liz has is for public speaking. It’s not that she should be a public speaker, but she has the definite ability to write her own speeches and execute them with grace and purpose. Liz gave the eulogies for both of her grandparents funeral service, and while a tear might have choked her voice a time or two, she was able to stay on task nevertheless, and both were just beautiful, with the perfect mix of humor and love. I know that I could not have done them, and I was very moved by her ability. Not only did Liz take the time out to write out the eulogies, but she set herself to the task of scanning all the necessary pictures, downloading the music, and putting together the slide shows for both funerals. And those are not the only slide shows she has done either. She also did my father-in-law’s and Bob’s cousin’s. She is very talented at all things that have to do with photography.

Teacher LizLiz and LaceyWhich brings me to another of Liz’s many talents. In recent years, Liz has been the school photographer for Kelly Walsh High School, photographing all the sporting events, social events, and anything else school related. This has blossomed into her own photography business, in which she photographs weddings, baptisms, senior pictures, and family photographs. With everything she can do, she is definitely our Multitalented Liz. Today is Liz’s birthday. Happy birthday Liz!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Dad and MomAs we were going through our parents things after the passing of our mother, we came across several very old maps of different states, and also one that I received of London during World War II. It occurred to me that my sisters and I are a real novelty these days, in that we know how to read a map, and plan out a route to travel to anywhere we would like to go. I’m sure there are other people out there who can read maps too, but in this day and age of the GPS, many people can’t either. I’m all for technology, and I have a GPS myself, but I can also read a map, and that is because of my dad, and his determination to teach us that art.

Every year our family would take a vacation. Sometimes we didn’t travel very far, like the year we took a Wyoming tour, in several separate legs over the course of two weeks. Other times, we traveled quite a ways, like the years we went to visit our sister, Cheryl Masterson, while she was living in upstate New York. As students go, we were a novelty too, because every year when the teacher asked the inevitable question about what we did over the summer, we always had a story to tell. At the time, we didn’t imagerealize just how blessed…and how traveled we were, compared to other students in class. I always thought that everyone took a vacation, but that isn’t so. Many kids got to go visit a grandparent or some other relative, but going to the same place every summer isn’t really a vacation.

Our parents were so excited about our vacations every year, and we would often sit down and Dad would show us the route we were going to take on our trip. It was during these vacation planning sessions, that we learned to read a map, and that we learned to enjoy reading a map. The map was never confusing or complicated to us, because Dad showed us how to read it. We knew the difference between an interstate and a state highway. We knew how to pick out the larger cities, as opposed to the small towns. We knew what states and what towns we would be traveling through, and we knew how to find the sights that were located in the area that might be of interest. We knew how to find campgrounds in the area, and how to figure out how far we could easily travel in a days time. All these things are on a map, if you know where to look for them, and thanks to our dad, we did.
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I suppose that many people wouldn’t think of a map as a treasure, but for my sisters and me, they really were. We all had to have some of them, and every time we look at them, they will serve as a reminder of those planning sessions, and of all those amazing vacations we took as kids, with our parents. I have no problem with the convenience of a GPS, and in the big cities my husband Bob and I travel to, they are a great help, but if my GPS ever failed, I could still get us there with a map. It is a legacy that our dad left for his daughters. It does make us a novelty, but it is something we are all proud to be able to do, and thankful that we had the parents we had. Their interest in travel, and Dad’s teachings on maps clearly enriched our lives.

10506949_10152705341444375_4440921502349364145_oIn years gone by, many mothers were also their children’s teacher. I suppose that when it is just the way things are done, you step up and do what you need to do. Back when families first headed out west, there were no schools and no teachers, and yet the children still needed an education. The one difference they had then was that many, and in fact most of those girls who went through school ended up with a teaching certificate. It made sense, when you think about it. Many people were heading west and schools were scarce, so parents needed to know how to teach, so kids could get a proper education.

Soon schools popped up in every town, and homeschooling began to move into the past…or at least not in the forefront of life anymore. I’m sure there were still homeschooling moms out there, but they were no longer the norm, or even slightly common. In fact, for a time, moms who homeschooled their children were considered odd, and maybe even fanatical. In reality, they were probably very sensible, capable, and yes, wise parents…and quite misunderstood.

As more parents began to disagree with the curriculum that was being taught to their children, homeschooling has been making a comeback. These days, not every mother received a teaching certificate when she graduated, but then, school is more advanced these days too. It isn’t that mothers these days can’t teach, it’s just that teaching is complicated these days and in order to be a good teacher for their children, most of these parents have to learn the lessons they teach, along with their children…or just hours before their children anyway. It is a big job, and one many people don’t feel like they can do. I suppose that is why people still put their kids on public schools, even if they don’t agree with the teachings. Many households need two incomes to make ends meet too, so homeschooling isn’t always an option. Nevertheless, I have a great deal of respect anyone who chooses to homeschool…mixed with understanding for parents who don’t.

I don’t know very many people who homeschool their children, in fact I can only think of two right now. One of those, my cousin, Elizabeth Nordquist is a first time homeschooler. She is the mother of two beautiful little girls, Addie and Meadow. I’m sure she is very capable, but she expressed feelings of jangled nerves too, at the first of the school year. It is a big task to take on, and one that the parents don’t step into lightly. Many people don’t always understand the reasons why this choice is made, and I’m sure that the reasons are as varied as 1491593_10205372922068557_8413410012355388985_nthe parent and student. Some students just do better on a one to one basis, while others aren’t morning people and so that early schedule is tough. And for some families, it is totally the curriculum, and the many clashes between the family’s faith and the secular teachings that are so popular, and yet very often harmful to the students. Whatever the reason for the choice, it is up to the parents as to how their children should be educated, and I think is takes an amazing, and very special person to make the choice to educate their children themselves when the public school system disagrees with their own goals for their children. I also think that as time goes on and more people disagree with the secular views, we will have more homeschooling families out there. Sometimes getting your child’s necessary education is all up to you.

BoardersThrough the years, people have taken in boarders to help make ends meet. These days, people might have a roommate to share the financial load when buying a house or renting an apartment, but that didn’t happen often in years gone by. When it became necessary to find a way to make ends meet, people took in boarders…usually people they didn’t know. They might be people who were working in the area, or in college towns, maybe students. For my grandmother, I think it must have been men working in the area. I’m sure she didn’t know the men prior to renting them a room, but they quickly became like family. She wanted to get a picture that included the boarders, and one of the men even held my Uncle Bill on his shoulder. Times were just different then, and most people were decent and trustworthy. There was, for the most part, a moral code that was followed.

I’m sure the men helped out with things around the place while they lived at my grandmother’s home, and I’m also sure they ate some of their meals with the family. I also seriously doubt that the rent charged was very much, because in the 1930’s, times were hard and people couldn’t afford to pay very much. These men were grateful, I’m sure, for the opportunity to have a place to live, and a nice family to live with. Many of those men were far from home, trying to make a living for their families who were waiting for their return. It was quite a lonely way to support your family, but you did what you had to do.
Family with just 3 kids
I’m not sure how long or how many times my grandmother had boarders living in her home, but I know she was a kindhearted woman who would have had a hard time thinking about some man sleeping in the freezing cold winter weather when her home had a spare room that he could have. And having a little help around the place wasn’t a bad thing either, because my grandfather worked on the railroad, and my dad and Uncle Bill were just little boys, so they couldn’t help much. The reasons that people take in boarders or roommates vary, but it usually boils down to need, either the need of the family to have an extra income, or the need of the boarder to have a place to live. It’s as simple as that.

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