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Hijacking is usually associated with airplanes, but it is certainly not limited to airplanes, nor is it limited to any one country. One of the scariest situations for parents of school children is when their bus is hijacked. That is exactly what happened on December 1, 1988, when five armed criminals, led by Pavel Yakshiyants hijacked a LAZ-687 bus carrying around thirty pupils and one teacher from school 42 in Ordzhonikidze, Soviet Union (now Vladikavkaz in Russia).

Most countries don’t often concede to the demands of the hijackers, because it doesn’t guarantee the safety of the hostages, but in this case, the local authorities did concede to the hijackers’ demands and provided an Ilyushin Il-76 aircraft to fly the hijackers to Israel. It was a very strange situation, as hijackings go, because first of all, the hostages were released when the demands were met. Meeting the demands of the hijackers unequivocally, often results in the hostages being taken to another location, where the situation just continues to escalate. In this case, however the hijackers landed at Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion Airport, and the hijackers surrendered to local troops and police without resistance. Then, Israel agreed to extradited to the men to the Soviet Union, where they were sentenced to prison terms. What made that very strange was that at that time Israel and the Soviet Union had no extradition treaty, because relations between the two countries were still severed. All hostages were released. The Defense Minister of Israel at the time, Yitzhak Rabin, criticized Soviet authorities for providing the hijackers with an aircraft and flying them to Israel in exchange for the release of the hostages, thereby making it Israel’s problem.

The hijacking was carried out by Pavel Levonovich Yakshiyants, Vladimir Alexandrovich Muravlev, German Lvovich Vishnyakov, Vladimir Robertovich Anastasov, and Tofiy Jafarov. Yakshiyants and Muravlev were prior convicts, while the others were first time offenders. Yakshiyants, an Armenian, was first convicted when he was 17 and sentenced to two years in prison for theft. That did little to deter him, and he was later sentenced to four years in prison for robbery. Then in 1972, he was sentenced to ten years, again for robbery, but somehow managed to be released on parle in 1979.

What had started out as a field trip, turned scary when a man approached them saying he was the driver sent to take them home. The group of 30–31 schoolchildren had just finished a field trip to a local printing plant when the hijacking occurred. Subsequently, the teacher and her pupils, aged 10 and 11, boarded the bus to find themselves the hostages of five armed people. The group was then used as a human shield and bargaining chip to make sure their demands were met. The hijackers rode to the local obkom, which is “literally the “Washington Province Party Committee” and is a derogatory term used in Russian media and speech to imply that many crucial decisions by political elites of Russia and some other post-Soviet states have been and are agreed with and/or taken in the United States.” The hijackers demanded about 2 million rubles, which is about US$3.3 million at the time, and an aircraft. The authorities agreed, but the airport of Ordzhonikidze was unable to handle the large Ilyushin Il-76 cargo aircraft that was sent. The hijackers were told that they would have free passage to airport of Mineralnye Vody, so they went there. The bus windows were curtained so that the law enforcement units could not see what was happening inside. Russia’s Alpha Group was mobilized for a possible hostage rescue. It was learned that the hijackers were planning to land in Tashkent to pick up a friend then fly to Pakistan, but changed their mind and chose Israel instead. According to Israeli Army commander Major General Amram Mitzna, the hijackers believed they would be safe in Israel because they had heard that recent Israeli elections had produced an anticommunist government. Boy, were they in for a surprise?

The Ilyushin Il-76 cargo aircraft was escorted by Israeli fighter aircraft and landed on a remote darkened runway. It was quickly surrounded by army and police vehicles and ambulances. According to an Ilyushin Il-76 crew member, the hijackers asked whether they had landed in Israel or Syria. They said that if it was Israel, they would stay. Mitzna said that the hijackers demanded proof that they were actually in Israel. They wanted to hear Yiddish or see a Star of David. When a soldier on the runway spoke a few words in Yiddish, the hijackers left the aircraft with their hands in the air. The hostages were quickly secured and were flown back to Ordzhonikidze. Following the extradition, the ring leaders, Yakshiyants and Murlav were put on trial. In March 1989, Yakshiyants was sentenced by the Supreme Court of Russia to 15 years in prison. Murlav was sentenced to 14 years. The remaining defendants received sentences ranging from three to fourteen years. All of the hostages arrived home safely, none the worse off for their ordeal.

Like school children, my nephew, Shannon Moore’s birthday always falls during his vacation from school, or in his case, work. Nevertheless, Shannon’s work is tied to school, because he is the assistant coach for the Wyoming Cowboys football team. He is also their tight ends coach and helps with special teams too. His job allows for time off in the summer, so he is able to have his birthday off each year…a very nice thing for him and his family.

Shannon is a great dad. Being a teacher, he loves to teach their daughter, Mackenzie new things. This year’s big event is that Mackenzie can now jump off of the diving board at the pool, and then swim to the side. That’s pretty impressive for a 6-year-old girl. Mackenzie trusts her daddy implicitly, and if he thinks she can do it, she is fearless. The two of them have a beautiful daddy-daughter relationship and it is a delight to his wife, my niece, Lindsay Moore. Shannon is a great teacher, and that is what makes him a great coach.

Shannon has a true servant’s heart though and that has been so obvious this year. The family has gone through so many things over the past few years, and Shannon’s servant’s heart and giving nature has been made so clear tp Lindsay in this year of trial. Shannon is ready and willing t help anyone in need, with anything they need. He knows how it feels to go through tough things, and he wants to make the road a little easier for anyone he can. He is genuinely happy to help…to serve, and Lindsay can tell it comes from a loving heart, as can anyone who knows this beautiful couple. Shannon is a giver, as so is Lindsay. They both serve the Lord with gladness, even in adversity. They let nothing get them down, even loss. I have never seen such devotion to God, no matter what a person is facing. They have been able to see God’s blessings in their lives no matter what.

Shannon has loved Lindsay since the moment they met, and she feels exactly the same way. They are so perfect for each other, and they as such a loving couple. It is so sweet to see them acting like newlyweds even after almost ten years of marriage. As Lindsay says, “Obviously, I love Shannon, we love Shannon, everyone loves Shannon!” She is right, of course, we do all love Shannon. And Lindsay wanted me to make sure that I mentioned that “He’s SUPER HANDSOME!” Today is Shannon’s birthday. Happy birthday Shannon!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Tragedy never really goes away. Of course, it forever stays with the families of the lost, but some tragedies leave us with deeper feelings than other tragedies. Some tragedies touch our very core. Of course, those tragedies are the kind that are known, and felt, around the world. Like every national tragedy, we remember where we were when we first heard about the Challenger Disaster. Nasa had been losing its draw to a degree, but this mission was to be the first time a civilian would go up in space, and NASA had chosen a teacher for that all important mission. Her name was Christa McAuliffe. Of course, she was only one member of that tragic mission, and truly no more or less important than any of the others. These people had worked hard to become a team. The names of the rest of the crew were Dick Scobee (Commander), Michael J Smith (Pilot), Ronald McNair (Mission Specialist), Ellison Onizuka (Mission Specialist), Judith Resnik (Mission Specialist), and Gregory Jarvis (Payload Specialist).

We all think we know what happened that fateful day…an explosion, right? Not exactly. Just 73 seconds after liftoff, the space shuttle was engulfed in what is now being called a cloud of fire, at an altitude of 46,000 feet. It looked like an explosion, the media called it an explosion, and even NASA officials mistakenly described it that way initially. Nevertheless, the reality is that in fact, there was no detonation or explosion…at least not in the way we understand an explosion to be. Actually, a seal, manufactured years before the launch, in the shuttle’s right solid-fuel rocket booster designed to prevent leaks from the fuel tank during liftoff weakened in the frigid temperatures in Florida that day. When the seal failed, hot gas began pouring through the leak. Instead of exploding, the fuel tank actually collapsed and tore apart, and the resulting flood of liquid oxygen and hydrogen created the huge fireball believed by many to be an explosion, but it was actually just a fire.

The Challenger didn’t disintegrate right away. In fact, it remained momentarily intact and actually continued moving upwards with its forward momentum. Then, as it shot forward, powerful aerodynamic forces actually pulled the orbiter apart. The pieces…including the crew cabin…reached an altitude of about 65,000 feet before losing its momentum and falling out of the sky into the Atlantic Ocean below. At that point, the crew, who had most likely survived the initial breakup of the shuttle, was unconscious due to loss of cabin pressure and probably died due to oxygen deficiency pretty quickly. The cabin hit the water’s surface traveling at speeds of more than 200 miles per hour. It hit the water a full 2 minutes and 45 seconds after the shuttle broke apart. No one knows if the crew might have regained consciousness in the final few seconds of the fall, and I certainly hope that is not the case. I would much rather that they had no idea what was coming, and if they were awake, they certainly would have known. We will never know, of course.

Salvage operations began immediately, and I’m sure that they hoped against hope to be able to find some of the crew still alive. Within a day of the shuttle tragedy, salvage operations had recovered hundreds of pounds of metal from the Challenger. As hopes turned to sad resolve, the salvage operation continued. They kept looking and finally in March 1986, the remains of the astronauts were found in the debris of the crew cabin. By the time NASA closed its Challenger investigation in 1986, all of the important pieces of the shuttle were retrieved. Nevertheless, most of the spacecraft remained in the Atlantic Ocean, where I’m sure, they thought it would remain. Then, a decade later, eerie memories of the disaster resurfaced when two large pieces of the Challenger washed up in the surf at Cocoa Beach, about 20 miles south of the Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral. NASA believed the two barnacle-encrusted fragments came from the shuttle’s left wing flap. It is thought that the two pieces were once connected. One piece measured more than 6 feet wide and 13 feet long. Once they were officially verified, the pieces of Challenger were placed in two abandoned missile silos with the other shuttle remains, which number around 5,000 pieces and weigh in at some 250,000 pounds.

My grandniece, Aurora Hadlock is growing us so fast. It seems impossible that she could be going into middle school this year, but she is very excited about that. Aurora is a social girl, and she is really looking forward to the changing of classes, and the very real possibility of making lots of new friends. Middle school is such an exciting step for kids. They begin to take responsibility for getting themselves from class to class, and moving from teacher to teacher, and having different friends in each class. The newfound variety is new and lots of fun. It makes the student feel very grown up…and after all, they are getting very grown up.

While middle school is so much more grown up, there are still things that make school fun for the students. Aurora is signing up for Lego Robotics again this year. I am always amazed with the things the kids make with the Legos. We had Legos when I was a kid, but the things we made were pretty elementary. These days the Legos move like robots. They open up and show you how they are made. They just aren’t your grandma’s Legos. These Legos have been transformed by these kids to the next level…and Aurora is very good at Lego Robotics!!

Aurora is also joining the book club. She loves to read, and this girl loves books. I can understand that too, because reading takes you to places you could never go otherwise. If you have a good imagination, and I believe she does, books can change the way you think and the way you see things. They open up the world to you, if you take the time to read the pages. I think Aurora is much like her mom there too, in fact she is her mini-me.

This summer, Aurora and her family got to go to Florida with her Grandma and Grandpa Hadlock (my sister, Allyn and her husband Chris), and the whole family. They rented a beautiful house down there, and everyone had a wonderful time. They got to swim and play on the beach, and they even got to take a little harbor cruise. Everyone had such a wonderful time, and it was such a memorable trip and such a blessing. It was a wonderful way to round out the summer, and I’m so glad that they got to go. Now Aurora is all ready to head back to school. She has had a great summer and now she is ready to head back to school. I know that she is going to have a wonderful first year of middle school, and I am very excited for her. Today is Aurora’s 11th birthday. Happy birthday Aurora!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My husband, Bob Schulenberg’s uncle, Butch Hein served in the US Navy during the Vietnam War. In all the years I have known him, and like most other veterans, Butch never talked about his time during that war. I don’t know where he spent his service years, but the main thing is that he made it home. Once home, Butch began to live the rest of his life.

He married the love of his life, Bonnie Wertz, and together they began planning their future lives. Bonnie soon became pregnant with their first child, and on November 5, 1969, their son, Scott was born. Life was perfect…for a time, but unfortunately it would not stay that way for long. While pregnant with their daughter, Crista, Bonnie was diagnosed with cancer. Like most mom’s she tried to wait it out, so she could give their daughter life, but in the end, both were lost. Butch’s heart was broken, and while he tried to move on with his life, and succeeded with his son, he really was never happy in a relationship again. Bonnie was his forever love. Nevertheless, Butch is very happy with his son. They are best friends and business partners in the ranching business they own together.

Scott grew up and married Terri Wiederrick. They now have three grown children, Laura, Carson, and Lindsey. Butch’s life has made a wonderful turnaround. Having these three grandchildren has been the highlight of his life. Scott built his house on the same property as his dad, so for much of the kids’ lives, they were right beside their grandpa. It was one of the greatest gifts Scott and Terri could have given his dad. Butch has been able to be a big part of his grandchildren’s lives, and they all love him very much.

Now that they are grown, the grandchildren are moving on with their lives. Laura is a teacher and lives a few hours away, Carson is working on a ranch in the area, and Lindsey is away at college. I think the empty nest syndrome might apply not only to their parents, but to their grandpa as well. That happens when the grandparents are very close. It happened to me when my own grandchildren became adults, and while we are still close, it is more from a distance these days. I have a feeling Butch is finding himself in the same place. Happy, but a little sad too. Today is Butch’s 77th birthday. Happy birthday Butch. Have a great day!! We love you!!

My grand-niece, Reagan Parmely is in the third grade, but she has a very different kind of school day from the kind when I was a kid in the third grade. Reagan and her sister, Hattie are homeschooled, so their day is structured quite differently from a public school. They spend pretty much the same amount of time in class and studies as the public school, but the recess and lunch breaks are very different. I don’t know of any public school where the students can go out for recess and jump on the trampoline, ride a horse, or play with the kittens and baby goats. Nevertheless, that is the kind of things that Reagan and Hattie can do. They also might spend part of their classroom breaks doing a few chores, like feeding the animals or mucking out the stalls and beds of the animals.

When Reagan’s mom, Ashley Parmely decided to homeschool her children, I thought it might be fun to have a play on words with the kids. I asked them, “How do you like your teacher this year?” After giving my an odd look, Reagan and Hattie (who is in 1st grade) have both said, “My mom is my teacher.” That opened up a conversation. I told them I knew that, so how did they like her. Well, they were still confused, because, of course, they “love” her. They said that she was good, and I said that I figured they liked her. They began to catch on, and then laughed a bit. As I said, their schooling is different from pubic school, and it is, in more ways than one. What public school allows the children to hug their teacher, much less tell their teacher they “love” her these days. It is just not done anymore, because everyone is afraid of a lawsuit. I find that really sad.

Life on a farm, being homeschooled has been really good for Reagan and her siblings, Hattie, Bowen, and Maeve. They love the freedom they have to relax in the schooling situation, and even to sleep in, because if they had to catch a bus for school, they would have to get up much earlier. The kids are also getting an education that is much more expanded than other children. Growing up around animals, watching them give birth, learning to milk a cow or a goat, and even learning about death, because that happens on the farm too. Some animals are raised for food, and that is just a part of life. Reagan is growing up so fast. In so many ways, she is wise beyond her years. She is a good big sister, a good farm girl, and we are all very proud of her. Today is Reagan’s 9th birthday. Happy birthday Reagan!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My niece, Ashley Parmely is a very busy girl these days. She has long been a farmer…raising horses, cows, chickens, goats, pigs, dogs, cats, and farmers. There may be others too that I am unaware of. Taking care of all those animals and her four little farmers too, keeps her running all day. Personally, I don’t know where she gets the energy for all of it, and as if that weren’t enough, this year, with the ongoing pandemic, she has taken on a new role…that of teacher to her three little students…all while also keeping her youngest girl, Maeve busy while she teaches the older children, Reagan, Hattie, and Bowen. If she doesn’t know why she might be tired, I say…”Let me enlighten you!!”

Being the teacher is a very new concept to Ashley. I don’t think it was a role she had ever imagined herself in. Nevertheless, with the Covid-19 Pandemic, and the hornet’s nest it stirred up in the education system, she and my nephew, Eric Parmely have decided that it is the best way to educate their children. Now as the teacher, you are held to a high educational standard, and it was here that Ashley came across her first stumbling block. No, it wasn’t academically, she’s fine with that. No…it was in penmanship. Not the part about being able to read her writing, but rather, her struggle with “chalkboard writing.” Seriously…how can you aske your students to write in nice straight lines, when you are unable to do so. Hahahahaha!! Ashley is working hard on this problem, and now, a little way into the quarter, I believe she has it under control.

For Ashley, homeschooling the kids is in many ways a dream come true. She has her children at home with her, and they can have relaxed classes on the farm. Homeschooling isn’t a new concept. It has been going on for many years, it’s just that now, with the pandemic, more people have opted for homeschooling. Ashley and Eric are concerned over some of the new radical education plans for things. Some of the things their kids are learning, really seem extreme to Ashley and to many other Christian and Conservative parents. Kids need time to be kids, and with Ashley, I know that the kids will have just that. Ashley has a wonderful sense of humor and isn’t afraid to look silly sometimes. I believe it will make her the kids favorite teacher. Today is Ashley’s birthday. Happy birthday Ashley!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Every kid, at some time in their childhood has dreams of what they want to be when they grow up. For many it has to do with what their mom or dad does for a living…at least at first. Later, it might be their grandparents, a television personality, a favorite teacher, or a hero in town. They may not have any idea of what the job they think they want might entail, but because someone they admire does that job, it must be the best job in the world. As adults, we would probably groan at the idea of the job those little ones look upon as fabulous, but to them it is the greatest thing ever.

I remember my niece, Lindsay Moore, who wanted to be a firefighter, as did my grandson, Josh Petersen (who is still interested in firefighting), The funny thing about Lindsay was that her dad, my brother-in-law, Chris Hadlock was a cop at the time. It’s funny, because Lindsay’s niece, Aurora Hadlock wants to be a police officer. It’s still in the family, she just chose the occupations of her grandpa, and uncle Jason Sawdon. Time will tell if Aurora fulfills her dream. After all, she is only 9 years old.

What’s is really interesting is when a child has such high hopes that the idea is way above their heads. Nevertheless, they keep their head up, looking at their goal…keeping it always before their eyes, until one day, they find themselves living that dream. Others never do follow the dream of their childhood, mostly because a new dream comes along that makes the old dream seem dull and boring. Sometimes it is from a life experience, such as my sister-in-law, Jennifer Parmely, who became a Labor and Delivery Nurse, after her first son was born. Or Lindsay, who tried firefighting, and decided that she wanted to go into Kinesiology, which is the study of the mechanics of body movements.

Some kids, like my husband Bob Schulenberg, his brother, Ron Schulenberg, nephews Barry Schulenberg, JD Parmely, and Eric Parmely, all went on to be mechanics like their dad and grandpa, Walt Schulenberg. Some futures, such as those of these men, seem to be in the blood, and that is ok too.

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!!

My grand niece, Zoey Iverson is an amazing child. Zoey is just 4 years old, but she has taken on a task that is far beyond her years. Zoey is getting ready to start pre-school in the fall, but she is already a teacher. I’m sure that seems incredible, but it’s the truth. Zoey’s older brother, Lucas, who is 8 years old, was born with Down Syndrome. To Zoey, Lucas is her big brother, and she loves him, and that is all that matters. Zoey knows that her brother is older than she is, and she also knows that he needs help with things. Zoey has assigned herself the task of being his helper and his teacher. That is an amazing feat for a 4 year old girl…and nobody told her to do this!! She just has a loving heart, and wants her brother to have the best chance there is.

Zoey’s current project is helping her brother learn how to talk more and to use the bathroom more. At this point, Zoey and Lucas share a bedroom, so they play together all the time. They love to watch movies, hang out on the bed, look at books, cuddle, and play. They love their room. It is a sanctuary for them…their own space to do kid things. Zoey has been such an integral part of her brothers progress. From helping him learn to walk, to talking, to balance, to playtime, Zoey is very active in her brother’s progress.

Of course, Zoey loves to help her mommy, Cassie too. They do a lot of yardwork together, which Zoey really enjoys. And Zoey is not afraid of snakes in the yard either, although, she makes sure it’s ok to pick it up before she touches it. At snakes…I have to draw the line!! Eeeeewwww!! Zoey loves doing things with her daddy, Chris, like fishing. She also has a kitten that she loves to play with and nurture. She has a very loving, kind heart. Her mom also informs me that…once in a while, Zoey likes to talk back and be a total of four-year-old. I guess that is pretty typical of all kids now and then. Maybe it’s because Zoey is such a mommy type, herself. When she is playing, Zoey likes to dress up in her princess dresses and play a lot of pretend games. Like all little girls, being a princess is paramount in their lives. Today is Zoey’s 4th birthday. Happy birthday Zoey!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

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