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Summit Up

Summit Daily/Brad Odekirk Summit Daily News photographer Brad Odekirk is surrounded by Dillon Valley Elementary first graders from Genie Miller's and Deb Griffith's classes Friday morning in front a world map. Odekirk, who has made two trips to Africa in recent years, gave a slide show on Africa to the students who are studying about Africa in their curriculm right now. Writes Miller: "We are looking at Africa and trying to understand a little of its environment, cultures, animals and geography. We are trying to develop an understanding of and empathy for different people and how they live. Knowing that many people in our community are from Africa and some of our friends have visited Africa has made our study more meaningful." In his travels, Odekirk visited Mali, Burkina Faso, Ghana and Uganda. Also pictured is student teacher Monica Schack.

Good morning and welcome to Summit Up, the world’s only daily column watching friends wander off into the void, only to return with good ideas in hand.See, it all started in the hallways of high school – ninth grade to be exact – where one of our friends made a startling discovery. As all our classmates rushed by in a whiz of textbooks and bookbags, he asked, quite innocently, “Is this what the real world is like?”MILLIONS OF SUMMIT UP READERS: Yes! No! Sometimes!Either way, long after graduation and fearful of the real world, our friend wandered off into the void with a video camera and a natural curiosity. He returned over the weekend – popped in with little notice – and spoke of his new idea: to document eco-psychology, or how our surroundings affect our lifestyle, culture and decision-making.For example, we wander into the woods to relieve ourselves, but we would never wander into a mall to do the same. We cough and hack on a chair lift, but we would never cough and hack while toasting the bride and groom.

Our environment, he said, kind of controls our minds.MILLIONS OF SUMMIT UP READERS: Never!Yet, you’ve already proven his point. Think about where you are this very moment, and how your environment conditioned you to be there. Maybe you’re eating breakfast in the kitchen. Or, perhaps, you’re perusing this column over lunch at a cafeteria.Would you be there if you were truly in control? And that’s where the chicken-and-the-egg argument begins. Do we control our environment, or is it the opposite? Or, perhaps, what truly defines us as people and as a community is how we choose to interact with everything around us.

(We’re not encouraging urination in malls; however, we’re sure a 3-year-old has already beaten us to the punch many times … and this is why we treasure our youth. They aren’t as conditioned.)And the people fighting the good fight, he says, only want a balance – nothing more, nothing less. That’s it.***Speaking to a different type of balance, we give a Summit Up Salute to Silverthorne resident Garrett Wieronski, who received an Effective Leadership Scholarship from Cedarville University (Ohio).

Wieronski was honored as a first-year student for his high ACT/SAT scores, a cumulative high school GPA of 3.0 or higher, outstanding character, and extensive leadership and service involvements.And his reward? A scholarship of at least $1,000.Congrats to him and to his parents, Walter and Sherry, as well.***It’s Tuesday, and the thought of the day is “famished for new worlds.” We’re out finding a balance …

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