Local youth will highlight Fourth of July celebration

Our story this week on a 12-year-old hitting a hole in one at Pinewood Golf Course is pretty cool, but that’s not the number that impressed me the most in reporting the story.

It’s 236.

There are 236 youth signed up for the Go for the Green instructional league at the municipal course. It’s a good number Elk River City Council members should keep in mind when considering the amount of money it takes to keep the course up and running.

Not all red ink is created equal. Teaching youth a lifelong sport, one that might help keep them busy through the teen years when they are exposed to the array of poor choices that their peers might make, is money well spent.

Elk River City Council members were gutsy to save the golf course, and more courage will be needed to defend their choice.

No one talks about the other courageous act that has benefitted a lot of other youth over the years since the city of Elk River agreed to save the Little Theater at Elk River High School. The $500,000 bill that was handled over a period of years continues to pay big dividends.

The need to invest in youth remains high in the community of Elk River, the county seat of Sherburne. I’ll never forget when it was reported that Sherburne County was one of the top 20 fastest growing counties in the nation for youth. Elk River has done a pretty good job answering the call, but it must remain vigilant in its efforts to look out for the littlest children as a sour economy continues to needle us.

The efforts that are taken to recognize and reward youth for their success are critical to this process. The same way in which a 12-year-old gets recognized for hitting a hole in one, the community of Elk River needs to find an increasing number of ways to honor youth.

The folks at Elk River High School who got behind and stuck with a local Peace Essay competition are a shining example of what can happen. They set about recognizing the youth locally and it developed into a force at the state level competition. And now Renee Holznecht, a senior at Elk River High School, took second in the nation in the national contest.

She has been asked to read the preamble to the Declaration of Independence at this year’s Independence Day celebration, and she has graciously accepted.

Elk River High School has also pulled together another alumni band to showcase as many of its Louis Armstrong winners as possible and grow recognition for a solid band program.

And this year there will be an Elk River Idol contest for the first time at the Fourth of July celebration.

Local Scouts will once again participate in the flag-raising ceremony with members of the Elk River Police Honor Guard and the Sherburne County Sheriff’s Department Honor Guard.

Fireworks will light up the night sky in Elk River on July 4.

And the headline act is a local boy, Shane Martin, a rising star in the music industry.

These are all attempts to raise the profile of youth who are achieving success in our community. And I don’t just mean those who are hitting holes in one, placing in national essay contests or achieving other great feats. I’m talking about youth at all levels and of all backgrounds.

Let’s celebrate them as we celebrate our nation’s independence, and continue to throughout the year. The more we appreciate what they do, the more they will work to impress us. We already have much to be impressed about. — Jim Boyle, editor