What Opportunities Do Small Town High Schools Offer Students?

#NaBloPoMo Day 18

Opportunities Abound in Woodlake, CA

You think nothing happens in a small town? Think again! Living in a small town is amazing.

Coronation of Miss Woodlake November 13, 2016
Coronation of Miss Woodlake November 13, 2016 L to R Evelyn Vasquez, Crystal Zaragoza, Lizette Castillo, Alexis Brogan, Odalis Arteaga

In addition to attending classes, playing in sports, home and church activities, these young women have taken time to learn new skills that qualify them to compete for the title of Miss Woodlake.

Ms. Vasquez was the first to wow the audience with her version of “Salt and Light.” She sounds like the next American Idol to me. What do you think?

“Salt & Light”

Oh the beauty of our King
You make righteous those who seek
You have written and redeemed my story

Let my eyes see Your kingdom shine all around
Let my heart overflow with passion for Your name
Let my life be a song, revealing who You are
For You are salt and light…
“Salt & Light” by Lauren Daigle

Our new queen and her partner danced a traditional Mexican folklorico dance for us on a very small stage.

Alexis Brogan, the first runner-up to Miss Woodlake recited a poem illustrating her faith in God. Would she be considered the First Princess?

The audience gasped as Odalis Arteaga threw her father to the floor several times displaying her Tiquando ability. She amazed us when she broke a piece of lumber with a kick and a mini-chalkboard with her arm.

Technical difficulties marred the filming of this next contestant. Unfortunately, after the technical difficulties, I forgot to press the record button again. I apologize to Woodlake High School senior, Crystal Zaragoza.

Sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce, these five young women, mentored by Claudia Cabrera, will become an part of every aspect of the community. They ride in parades, take part in ribbon cutting ceremonies for new businesses and buildings, sell raffle tickets, and attend monthly Chamber of Commerce Board meetings.

Odalis checks in with Claudia to find out where to help out.
Odalis checks in with Claudia to find out where to help out.

All the service organizations in Woodlake sponsor events, and the court will help out with Lion’s Club and other organizations’ Rodeo Week activities, Kiwanis’ July Third Blast, and Woodlake Chamber’s July Car Show in the Park, to name a few.

2014-2015 Queen, Miss Sayge Davis helped emcee the coronation ceremony.
2014-2015 Queen, Miss Sayge Davis helped emcee the coronation ceremony.

Sometimes I felt badly for last year’s Queen because we worked her so hard, but when Sonni Hacobian crowned Lizette Castillo, she cried as she shared it was the best opportunity she had.

L to R Sayge Davis, Lizette Castillo, Sonni Hacobian
L to R Sayge Davis, Lizette Castillo, Sonni Hacobian

Summary

A beauty pageant displays and requires much more than beauty from its contestants.

  1. Participants work hard, donate much time to the community, and work as team members.
  2. They practice and hone their skills in addition to maintaining good grades in school.
  3. They represent the town of Woodlake for a year in events across the county.
  4. They attend meetings and assist in events doing whatever tasks are assigned to them.
  5. They participate in sports, music, drama, leadership conferences, FFA, Key and Interact Clubs at school providing leadership there.
  6. They are usually active in church or community work

Opportunities abound in a small town. Forgive me as I excuse myself to interview juniors who hope to attend the HOBY Leadership Conference in the spring.

Thanks to Claudia Cabrera and her mom who offers moral support.
Thanks to Claudia Cabrera and her mom who offers moral support.

Woodlake Valley Chamber of Commerce thanks Claudia Cabrera and all the Woodlake High School seniors who participated in this event. We are so proud of all of you.

If you loved this post, please share it as a thank you to the five talented young women who participated in the pageant, and their mentor, Claudia Cabrera.

8 Reasons to Shop the Local Hardware Store

Woodlake True Value Hardware Store Celebrating 100 Years of Continuous Service in 2017.

Woodlake True Value Hardware
Woodlake True Value Hardware

The day had turned out to be a typical Central Valley day, 104 degrees in the shade, and there was no shade. At 1:40 p.m. I rushed out of my car parked four feet from the new True Value Woodlake Hardware Store entrance for my 1:30 interview with Andrew Dorais and Russ Howard, the co-managers of the store.

Russ Howard, Co-Manager, Andrew Durais, Manager
Co-managers, Russ Howard and Andrew Dorais, didn’t mind the heat.

A traffic accident on the freeway from Visalia, 20 miles west of town, had slowed me for an hour, so YES, I was late when I got there.

Woodlake Chamber of Commerce Car Show Poster for July 16, 2016
Woodlake Chamber of Commerce Car Show Poster for July 16, 2016

One of our Woodlake Chamber of Commerce Car Show posters had front and center position on the front door.

Yeah! Good advertisement!

The door opened and air-conditioning already started to cool me down and settle my driving nerves. Leanne Jones greeted me with a smile, and Andrew and Russ came out to usher me back to the hardware office for our scheduled appointment.

Leeann Jones and Cindy Dorais designed and created the beautiful counter out of found goods at the store: old siding which they painted rusty red, a wagon wheel, and a glass top. They have orders for more.
Leeann Jones and Cindy Dorais, pictured in front, designed and created the beautiful counter out of found goods at the store: old siding which they painted rusty-red, a wagon wheel, and a glass top. They have orders for more.

The City of Woodlake commissioned me to write several articles about the different businesses in Woodlake for their magazine, and Andrew met me on the street the on Thursday, June 30 and immediately set an appointment for the next day.

If I can't find what I need, someone will help me, but everything is labeled.
If I can’t find what I need, someone will help me, but they also have  everything labeled.

Both Andrew and Russ have talked to me in the past, so I began by asking them how they were doing with the lofty goals they had set when they began working November 1st. Unlike me and my goals, they have achieved all of them and thank the community of Woodlake for the show of support.

ATV - All Terrain Vehicles great for foothill ranches and trail riding. WH also stocks gun safes.
ATV – All Terrain Vehicles great for foothill ranches and trail riding. WH also stocks gun safes.
I thought the tire treads looked like airplanes taking off over the ocean full of naval ships.
I thought the tire treads looked like airplanes taking off over the ocean full of naval ships.

8 Reasons to Shop Local

Woodlake is a bedroom community of Visalia. It isn’t far, but it is. It’s twenty miles, and even farther to the hardware stores in town. Some people might even go to Fresno which is about 45 miles away or Bakersfield – 60 miles away.

NOT ME! I think I’ll stay in Woodlake.

Together Russ and Andrew explained eight reasons to shop local rather than going to Visalia or Fresno for hardware and building needs.

I think this is Andrew's favorite department in the store.
I think this is Andrew’s favorite department in the store. I’ve never driven one, but Russ let me get on and pretend the last time I came. It’s like being a kid again. I like this place!
  1.  They have what I need in the store for building, decorating, and fixing things around the home.
  2. If they don’t have what I need in the store, I can order online through the True Value online website and it comes at no charge. That’s a big bonus for those of us who live even farther out in the country.
  3. Andrew and Russ brought in a huge selection of off-road vehicles. For farmers and laborers who work ranches that range from 7 to over several thousands of acres, nothing could be more practical. Even kids can help their parents run errands driving these around the ranch.
  4. After remodeling and redecorating, the next major step towards creating a new Woodlake Hardware was restocking and reorganizing merchandise. The isles sparkle with new hardware items, garden supplies, toys and items for the home.
  5. The layout has changed since November. It is brighter with new lights and ceiling. I wandered into the garden section taking pictures. Almost immediately I found the outdoor furniture section. Even the lawn mowers looked pretty, and I hate mowing.

    "I"m so pretty, oh so pretty. I'm so pretty and witty and bright."
    “I”m so pretty, oh so pretty. I’m so pretty and witty and bright.”
  6. Customer service goes without saying at any business, but it usually goes without saying. Many times I’ve walked into a hardware store, and not even seen a clerk who could help me. Unfortunately, I need a lot of help when my husband sends me to the store for some item I’ve never even seen or heard of before. It’s not a problem here. They all know my name! It’s like going into Cheers. OK, maybe you’re too young to remember that.
  7. They wanted to have a mechanics repair shop for small engines, and now they do. I should have asked more about the kinds of small engines they were talking about.
  8. Finally, the quality of the merchandise brings customers back. As Andrew pointed out, and I have experienced shopping for lumber with hubby, it can take rummaging through a few boards before we find the ones that are undamaged and usable. At Woodlake Hardware we can trust them to have just the best pieces. They stay competitive in price as well, and if we have a large order, they have it drop shipped to our building site.
I just love this table.
I just love this table made from scraps of stuff lying around in the back.

That’s cool. I bet my husband is regretting the trips to Fresno to pick up flooring during our remodel already. He wanted to save the shipping fee, so he DROVE to Fresno, paid a friend’s grandson to help him, and he tweaked his back unloading the 50-pound boxes. What a bargain!

I bet he’s hitting his forehead and saying, “I could have shopped in Woodlake!”

New lighting, new merchandise, all organized. It's a hardware guy's dream.
New lighting, new merchandise, all organized. It’s a hardware guy’s dream.

So if you are thinking of driving to Fresno or Visalia to shop for lumber or hardware needs, outdoor furniture, off-road vehicles, bikes for the kids, STOP. Take a short drive to Woodlake, and check out what is here. You will be pleasantly surprised.

My favorite section was the outdoor furniture and gardening area.
My favorite section was the outdoor furniture and gardening area.

Before I had finished taking pictures one display reached out and grabbed me.

"Buy me, buy me, buy me," said the folding chairs.
“Buy me, buy me, buy me,” said the folding chairs.

I had looked in Visalia for a couple of fold-up portable chairs for the park. They cost $34.00 at one of the stores, so I passed them up. Woodlake True Value Hardware had them on sale for $10.99. I bought two, and told everyone I saw at the July 3rd Blast to go get one before they all sold out!

These butterflies might like to try scaring the birds off my peaches.
These butterflies might like to try scaring the birds off my peaches.

Below you can listen to our interview on my first podcast. It is not the best quality recording because I don’t have a microphone, so I recorded this with my cell phone and used Audacity to “Normalize” the volume. You can tell it is not very normal.

My great-grandmother had one of these, and I remember sticking my arm through the rollers.
My great-grandmother had one of these, and I remember sticking my arm through the rollers.

It was fairly boring with just voices, (sorry Andrew, Russ and Marsha) so I found this great podcast music and purchased 2.5 minutes of “Cowboy Tears” and cut it into little pieces, and pasted it into Podcast #1.

Not everyone gets and ATV. I watched as four-year old Laila on her pink bike raced her big brother driving his ATV down their hill in Elderwood. I'll let you guess who won, but everyone had fun.
Not everyone gets and ATV. I watched as four-year-old Laila on her pink bike raced her big brother driving his ATV down their hill in Elderwood. I’ll let you guess who won, but everyone had fun.

Anyway, it only took two days to normalize and take out all the “uhms.”

Hope you love it. Don’t worry if you don’t. It’s not all that easy to do, and I’ll get better.

All I need now is a lot more knowledge, better recording set-up, and a deep-voiced announcer saying “Another Woodlake Valley Chamber of Commerce Podcast,” or something creative.

Everything grows in California's Central Valley. We are Within the Magic Circle.
Everything grows in California’s Central Valley. We are Within the Magic Circle.

So, if you like this article, please share it with your friends. If not, share it with someone you don’t like. (JUST KIDDING)

If you do not live in Woodlake, feel free to share about your favorite local shop. You can be your own local Chamber of Commerce. It’s fun! 🙂