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!!

Anna Louise Spencerimg392Autographing a yearbook, or in the past, an autograph book is a tradition that really never goes away. The school year…or a certain period in a person’s life is coming to an end. Friends want to be remembered and people want to remember their friends, so they write something in their yearbook that they hope will sound profound, sophisticated, grown up, or at the very least, not sound too stupid. It doesn’t matter that you know the annual yearbook signing is coming, when the moment arrives, you find yourself on the spot again. Do you write a poem? Do you say something goofy? Or, do you say something with deep feeling, knowing that you may not see these people much anymore…if at all? Of course, it depends on who you are speaking too. Goofy works for the class clown, and profound might be great for the valedictorian, and if these are your good friends, you might write something with a little more feeling, but if the classmates are little more than acquaintances, what do you want to say to them? I suppose that is more when the poem or saying of the day comes into play. I mean, you are on the spot, and you can’t take all day.

Still, there are times when the poem of the day says exactly what you are feeling, like the friends of my grandmother’s and my dad’s who had hoped that they would not be forgotten as the years passed. In reality, I think most of us remember most of our classmates, whether it’s is just their face, or even their name, but that doesn’t mean that we spend a lot of time with them over the years, unless they were really a good friend. Nevertheless, there were very few classmates who completely faded into obscurity to the point that we don’t even remember that they were classmates at all, and sometimes classmates come back into our lives to a degree, as is the case with people we reconnect with on Facebook or in some other online form of social media. That still doesn’t mean that the friendship has been completely rekindled, but rather that curiosity came into play a little bit, for a little while.

The main reason for autographs, I think, is to make a way to remember a time in our lives that we really can’t visit again. Even with class reunions and such, you really don’t go back to that time exactly. You and your classmates might talk a little bit about what you did in school, and a lot about what everyone is doing now, but Allen Spencer as a boyimg487at some point, there just isn’t that much to talk about anymore. Your lives have taken different directions, and you have very little in common. That’s probably why class reunions last for just a weekend, because if they were longer, no one would go. There just isn’t a weeks worth of conversations, unless you continued on as friends after your school days were over, And then you wouldn’t need a class reunion to get you together so you could catch up at all. I guess that’s why I think class reunions put you on the spot all over again.

Joann's yearbook pictureWe often think we know everything there is to know about a person, but what we don’t know would really surprise us. Recently while going through some old pictures, I came across my mother-in-law’s high school yearbooks, and her old scrap book. What I found in there surprised me very much, but that is not so surprising, since I first met her when she was 43 years old. Nevertheless, I expect that some of the things I found out about her, will surprise even her children, because I know they don’t know most of what I discovered.

For all the years I have known my mother-in-law, she was a homemaker, and pretty much a home body. She liked knitting and crocheting, and had done quite a bit of sewing in her time. She canned vegetables, and had raised many a cow for beef for the family. She loved horses, and as a girl, she would have rather been on a horse than pretty much anywhere else. That is all things we all did know about her. But…in high school, my mother-in-law was quite the joiner. Now that surprised me very much. Joann's Drill Team_0002aHer extra curricular activities included things like office aide and library staff, neither of which would be outside the realm of what I would have expected from her, nor would working on the annual staff or even the school paper, called The Shovel. Any of those things might have been something that I could see her being interested in. Really, other than the horse riding, my mother-in-law had always seemed to me like the quiet type, who didn’t like things that were noisy or too strenuous, so any of these things would fit into my idea box for her personality.

Then, my idea of just who she was, took a major hit. The scrapbook showed pictures of her as a member of the school drill team…the baton twirlers, as many of us would know them. I thought, “Wow!! That just doesn’t seem like her at all!!” To add to my surprise, I found that she was also a member of the pep club!! You can’t even get her interested in Joann's Drill Team_0001watching a football game today, so what was this all about? After this, I wasn’t totally surprised to find that she was on the basketball team, but since she as not been very athletic in all the years I have known her…not even wanting to go for a walk, I must say, it was hard to imagine her being out on the basketball court.

By now, my whole view of the person my mother-in-law used to be has been completely shattered, so I began to be prepared for more surprises to come, and she did not let me down in that area either. Since I have never heard my mother-in-law sing, my next big shocker was to find that she was a member of the Glee Club…who would have thought that?? But, it doesn’t stop there. She was also a member of the Dramatics Club. Imagine that, my mother-in-law the actress. I simply cannot imagine her being in a play, but apparently she was. And lest we leave out perhaps one of the most shocking Joann's yearbook picture_0001things, I was informed that she was into school politics!! In fact, she was it’s leader, being duly elected Senior Class President of the Class of 1949 at Colstrip High School in Colstrip, Montana. She has never been interested in politics that I can recall, and mostly wouldn’t even discuss it much.

I’m sure you think that you have heard all the things about my mother-in-law’s high school years that there could possibly be to tell, but you would be wrong, because the thing that shocked me the most, whether it should have or not, was the fact that while my mother-in-law has never gone by anything but Joann in all the years I have known her, apparently there was a time when she was…Annie. I wouldn’t have believed it myself, but it is there in black and white in her yearbook. Today is my mother-in-law’s 83rd birthday!! Happy birthday…Annie! Have a great day!! We love you!!

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