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Stories about nearly two dozen youths highlight annual Pamplin Media Group publication

Amazing.

There's no better (or shorter) way to characterize Pamplin Media Group's 2021 Class of Amazing Kids.PMG PHOTO - Pamplin Media Group's many talented reporters, editors, photographers and designers from sharing the good news about this year's special group of young people.

They've persevered for more than a year of the COVID-19 pandemic. They've endured, thrived, grown and reached out to help their communities despite the continuing shutdowns and restrictions on schools and society.

The Amazing Kids project, which usually concludes with a late-spring celebration at OMSI, saw its culminating event canceled for a second straight year because of the statewide pandemic restrictions. As painful as that loss is, nothing could stop Pamplin Media Group's many talented reporters, editors, photographers and designers from sharing the good news about this year's special group of young people.

In these days where hope and inspiration sometimes seem to be in short supply, we have plenty to share.

There's Newberg High School senior Asher Tatsumi, who has been a source of constant positivity for friends, classmates and fellow community members during the pandemic.

"Asher is one of the most positive students I have ever worked with," NHS assistant principal Mark Brown said. "During the pandemic, Asher has continued to bring a positive attitude as one of our ASB student leaders. He has made countless videos that we have sent out to encourage our students and staff. He is one of a kind and deserves to be recognized because he is kind, compassionate and has a positive impact on everyone he interacts with."

Tatsumi is active in ASB at the high school and leads the Tigers' cross-country and track teams. His positivity and friendliness are matched only by his skill in distance running, which contributed to a Pacific Conference championship for the NHS boys cross-country squad in April.

There's the outreach of Sunset High School student Maggie Bao, who started baking from home during stay-at-home orders last spring and later co-founded a club that cooks, delivers and serves food to the Transition Projects — an organization helping people transition from homelessness to housing.

The group also delivers food to a local women and children's shelter.

Bao started the club with her friend, Audrey Zhao, and they now have 10 people who are part of the group.

"During quarantine, I kind of just had the idea to basically take what we're doing every month at church and realizing we could actually just make this stuff ourselves at home and go to a shelter," Bao said.

There's the heart shown by Madras' Justin Plant, who learned that some of his classmates didn't have enough to eat and decided to do something about it.

"Is that possible? Are there really kids who don't have enough food to eat?" he asked his parents, Gary and Jill Plant.

Plant learned that indeed, some children do go to bed hungry and he just didn't think that was right. In response, Plant and his family helped implement the Backpack Buddies program through their church, Madras United Methodist. They raised funds, collected donations and purchased child-friendly, shelf-stable food through the regional food bank and local grocers.

There's the energy of Wilsonville High School students Ainsley Kennedy and Makenna Wiepert. With sports on hold, they worked with other teammates to raise more than $50,000 for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society as part of the Student of the Year campaign.

"They were incredible ambassadors and volunteers for our organization," Jennifer Standifer, campaign development manager for the campaign, said. "They excelled beyond our expectations and wants for students that come into the program."

Amazing journalism

Journalism, like many crafts, is deceptively labor-intensive. Producing each of these 28 profiles, many of which have multiple sources, takes hours to report and write. And then, the resulting 20,000 words of combined copy need to be reviewed and edited. Add in the photography, page design and press preparation, and you're looking at several hundred hours.

There's nothing new there. Projects like this are always challenging, even in the best of times. And these are not the best of times for journalism. The global pandemic has heightened the demand for news but disrupted the business model that traditionally paid for all those hours. So, we are increasingly looking to our readers. If you think trusted local journalism like this is worth supporting, please visit savinglocalnews.com.


You count on us to stay informed and we depend on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.

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