Samuel Bennett

As the new guy at the Daily Review, when I was told I could write anything, I really thought about what I would write about. You always want to make a good impression and with so many different polarizing topics, from politics to sports, it is hard sometimes to find some commonality between it all. I kept all of this in mind when I came to the conclusion that one thing everyone can agree on is that we could all use a little more optimism in our lives. We all have our day-to-day grinds that become a bit dreary if we let them; however, a little forced optimism can really change your day for the better. What do I mean by that? Sometimes we have to look for a reason to smile, but if you get in the habit of doing it everyday, it can really brighten your outlook. Every morning I make it a goal to discover one good thing about the day ahead, and while that is easier on some days then others, I often can find at least one. Sometimes it can be as simple as getting to go out for some food with a friend, or bigger things like a going on a trip. But no matter what the day brings, if your looking for a reason to smile, you will find one.

Brian Fees

When the fall hits a lot of people get excited for the Friday night lights and the start of high school football.

Football is king in Pennsylvania, and it likely always will be king in the fall.

However, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t a lot of other sports drawing plenty of attention this time of year.

From soccer, to volleyball. From cross country, to golf and swimming and to tennis and field hockey, the fall is full of sporting events.

Area athletes are really starting to show what they can do as it seems like one athlete after another is getting big-time college looks.

Athens’ Rachel Hutchison; Waverly’s Melina Ortiz and Notre Dame’s Laurel Vargas have already signed with Division I schools for soccer. And, there are so many others from Towanda’s Teagan Willey to Troy’s Riley and Nicole McClellan, Waverly’s Gabby Picco and Athens’ Ariana Gambrell that could be joining that list soon.

In volleyball the North Penn-Liberty volleyball team was unbeaten last regular season, and looks like they could do the same this year, while Caitlyn Callahan of Wellsboro has a long list of colleges looking at her.

Wellsboro and CV’s golf teams are two of the best in the districts and Wyalusing boys’ cross country features three of the best runners in the region, while Troy girls return a strong team. North of the border Waverly is ranked 13th in the state and Notre Dame’s Alyssa Walker is one of New York’s best.

Notre Dame’s Catherine Craig is a returning state medalist in swimming and Waverly’s Kennedy Wheeler could be a state qualifier as well, while Tioga’s Olivia Ayres is following in the footsteps of her all-state sister in field hockey. In tennis the Towanda Black Knights have started the year strong, and Notre Dame has some dominant players this year.

The Friday night lights are on every week this time of year, but those lights are shining on more than just the football fields.

Matt Hicks

Ever have someone you looked up to as a kid completely shatter your perception of them?

I have. And Cookie Monster is a jerk!

It started innocently enough. My wife, daughter and I had to go down to West Chester in late July for orientation with the Pennsylvania Leadership Charter School, and figured we would stop by Sesame Place while we were in the area.

Our meet-and-greets with The Count and Zoe went fine. So did our photo op with Oscar the Grouch (and he smelled surprisingly pleasant).

Then there was Cookie Monster. My daughter gave him a crayon to get his autograph, but the big blue fur bag ate it after signing her book!

“Aw, come on!” she yelled as she burst into tears.

She was still crying when he spit it out. I walked up to him to show her that he wasn’t really a bad monster and that she had nothing to be afraid of, but then he stole my hat!

As I said, he is a jerk!

Of course, it was all in good fun. He returned my hat with a big hug, and then my girl came back to get her picture. She even cheered him on during the parade and the performances that followed.

I’m glad Cookie and my family could part on good terms.

(Photos on Matt Hicks Daily Review Facebook page)

Brianne Ostrander

A large group of (fantastic) teens I know live for summer camp. They go to different schools in different local areas, participate in separate extra curricular activities — but twice a year they gather, once in the midst of winter in the warmth of an old building perched high on a mountain and the other under the heat of summer nestled on another mountain’s peak. Each year they audibly wish the events could happen more often and look forward months in advance to the next one — some would chalk it up to young people simply wanting to be with their friends but I think we can learn a thing or two from it about authenticity.

We all crave authentic relationships. We were made for them. Not just the “I’m fine, how are you” acquaintance-type friendships (though they are nice too) but real, genuine camaraderie. Connection. The people that give time and listen, even if conversations are far between, and understand you (usually either through relating or spending so much time together that they’ve learned.) It doesn’t mean you talk everyday. It means you’ve taken time to genuinely care and love well.

Maybe we’ve forgotten a bit of the art of genuine connection with the entrance of Netflix binging and 24 hour internet access and an almost unlimited supply of “busy.” But we can choose to unplug, become focused and connect — just as we all crave and need to — and these teens have experienced at least a taste of the benefits of doing so.