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Dedicated to a Brave Maine Coon


(Kujo, circa 2004)

It’s difficult to lose a pet.

I got that call yesterday.

When you experience it, it’s difficult to respond.

How do you respond without feeling foolish?

It was a pet. An animal.

I’m working through it, but I know it’s been even harder to lose one that had such personality.

With me throughout middle & high school, college & graduate school, work & marriage and until yesterday.

The memories of returning from trips and seeing a Maine Coon saunter out to greet us in the driveway. The van still ticking and hot to the touch from miles upon miles on I-75.

Kujo. Such an ill-suited, ironic name for so lovable a cat. But, I laugh thinking about the day my sister named him. Stephen King would be proud.

Mom called last night to confirm that he’d been sick for a while. She took him to the vet. Kidney failure & a host of other problems. The knowledge of him being sick as heavy as the absence of him on the back porch today, I’m sure.

Mom said she buried him where the plum tree once stood. He’d like that, I know. Always one to follow her out to the garden and watch her weed & water the squash and peppers. A country cat. Indoor / outdoor. Super smart and always aware of when tuna cans were being opened.

I’m happy he’s at rest. As I’m sure you’ve felt the same about pets and friends and family.

My heart goes out to those who’ve lost loved ones. (Pets or not.) It’s amazing the memories they can provide. How pets can bring warring parties together. If you told me a Maine Coon could’ve helped deter arguments fifteen years ago, I would’ve laughed. But now I know, even pets, can be agents for good.

Take this sappy entry today and use it, if you’d like. I hope it brings you closure to issues you might be wrestling with this year. God wants us all to live fully, freely, and passionately. All of us. Even pets and animals like the ones Lewis wrote about in The Chronicles of Narnia. They too serve a purpose. Even if it’s to be a daily reminder that it’s okay to let our guard down. It’s okay to love and be loved.


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Remembering Jason.

jason rose

Jason Rose – (Class of 03, MHS)

I was informed of his departure from this world on Friday.

As friends told me, and I tried to digest this information, it took some time to wrap my mind around what the world loses and Heaven gains when someone of Jason’s caliber departs.

I want to pause and reflect on a classmate who was truly kind each and every day I knew him. Truly.

Jason was a soft-spoken, mild-mannered guy who tried his best at everything our school offered.

While we didn’t have a lot of resources or the mobility to travel the globe during our 4 years in southern Kentucky, we all learned to grow as close as classmates could in a high school setting.

Suddenly, you realize your classmates are more than just that label. For us, it even went beyond the term ‘friend’ to some other label that might not ring true, but I’ll try to describe it.

At Monticello, we were involved in every academic and extra-curricular club, because that’s what there was to do. (We were too small to field a football team, but we took the talents available and had baseball, basketball, golf, etc.) We were almost like extended siblings to one another rather than classmates, because we spent so much time together.

Jason played pick-up games of basketball in the gym with me from 6th grade to graduation. We took part in after-school “open gym” games, and he even made a point to play “Bump!” or, as most of the rest of the world calls it, “Knockout!”

But, it wasn’t that he always played (or, joined these activities) that sticks in my mind. It was his demeanor in all of it. Again, Jason was even-tempered, reflective, and I guess the best description would be a “Southern gentleman.”

He didn’t get caught up in the shenanigans of high school or lose control when tempers flared. I vividly remember a moment when I was losing my cool in a game of 3-on-3 (as I often did), and Jason collided with me, and it was my fault.

Did I apologize? of course not. But, his reaction was terrific. Later, when I’d calmed down, I asked him how he could be so together, even when I was breathing down his neck like a bull.

He smiled like only Jason could, said, “Philippians 4:13. I can do all things…through Christ who strengthens me. I tell myself that and it calms me down. Plus, I just know you.”

I tried reminding myself of this verse, Jason’s actions, in future games/future conflicts, but I forgot a lot of the time. What I didn’t forget was how consistent he was, at a time when we were all kind of like loose cannons.

Hearing of Jason’s departure this week, I can only remember him from these instances. Through and through a classy guy. He loved the Colts and has a beautiful young daughter. My prayers go to his family during this tough time, and I won’t soon forget the demeanor he possessed, even in our youth.

He’s a great testament to our hometown, and Jason is someone I want to continue to be more like. He did what so few of us have done and that’s exemplify the phrase: “actions speak louder than words” Glad he’s seeing that strength up close now. Forever.

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When Independent Schools Close.


I LOVE Independent Schools.

From attending one in my K-12 experience to recruiting at them in E. Kentucky 2009-2013, I love everything about them.

Do they have their shortcomings? Yes. They are not perfect.

But, where else can teachers and students co-exist as members of the same community to the same degree that an independent school permits them?

In Kentucky, the ones I’ve had the pleasure to visit had school boards closely connected to students. (The elementary-aged kids knew the high schoolers and vice versa.)

Does this make larger schools evil…no way! But, the “closely-knit community feel” is often lacking in such mega-sized environments.

I remember my college recruitment visits fondly (or, most of them anyways). And, I remember the attentiveness and the inside jokes that classmates shared at schools like Corbin, Somerset, and Pikeville. The meetings held in the media center at Hazard Independent. Prestonsburg, Barbourville, June Buchanan and Jackson Independent all working around my schedule and last-minute alterations. It was a pleasure!

The people are SUPPORTIVE. The students (despite the lack of funding and resources) are resourceful and motivated, too. The sports teams are heartfelt and united. (The small team sizes always sent Independent schools into the Class A (or, 1A) division.)

Today, I found this image on the KHSAA website regarding all-time wins for boy’s basketball programs and had to share:

# School, Years (Won/Lost); 2013-14 Record
1,918 Ashland Blazer, 1921- (1,918-825-1); 22-10
1,854 Paducah Tilghman, 1911- (1,854-770); 15-13
1,578 Central City, 1926-90 (1,578-556); n/a
1,417 Paintsville, 1921- (1,417-1,072-2); 10-14
1,342 Newport Central Catholic, 1943- (1,342-698); 29-4
1,330 Wayne County, 1942- (1,330-803); 31-2
1,308 Lafayette, 1939- (1,308-718); 18-11
1,276 Monticello, 1911-13 (1,276-1,125); n/a
1,256 Paris, 1928- (1,256-1,097); 13-16
1,190 Mason County, 1960- (1,190-465); 21-

Seeing my alma mater’s name gave me a great bit of nostalgia. Yes. It’s been integrated into the school shown 2 rankings above it, and the 1911-2013 notation is painful to see, but I know the experiences that came from this place were once in a lifetime. For me, the staff and support at my Independent experience were second-to-none.

Larger schools are wonderful in their own rights as well. (Please hear me say that.) But, the uniqueness of a smaller school, smaller class sizes, and attention-to-detail made it a blessing. I reflect on MIS and remember the amazing people that made it a welcoming place.

To other alum and WCHS staff, thank you for welcoming this small community into yours since 2013. May the new friendships and memories keep forming.

To other schools that have closed their doors in recent years like Monticello, remember the people and the place and the time that was truly unique.