Jesse Baird

The Adams County Record of Council, Idaho

18-year-old Jesse Baird, graduating from Meadows Valley High School this week, looks closely at the world around him and is' not afraid to reflect upon its depth.

Jesse knows the world can swallow him up once he leaves home. He's just begun to realize the immensity of its size. Until now he's spent most of his childhood, except for a while in California, in the same house in New Meadows, blessed with many area relatives and a famous grandmother, Sally Hubbard, once Queen for a Day.

Jesse's bright brown eyes and thoughtful comments display curiosity and earnestness about life. He credits his hardworking parents with a really good work ethic. "They have helped me learn to power through things rather than just complain about them," he affirmed. That work ethic will come in handy when he leaves for Brigham Young University (BYU) this fall, a school so huge that it doesn't even need a street address just Provo, Utah.

His father, Ron Baird worked as a mason on local buildings and fireplaces, including the library. He's gone now, swallowed up by the world, moved on to Coeur d'Alene. Jesse appreciates the times they had together. He doesn't get to see his dad a lot, but dad stays in touch through his eloquent letters.

His older brother and sister are swallowed up too. Older sister, Chelsea, lives in Alaska, and his older brother, Levi, is a Marine repairing airplanes in North Carolina. His youngest sister, Becca, is an active student a year behind him at school.

His mom, Kim Baird, works at C&M Lumber. "She's a really good mom," he related. "I know kids are supposed to say that, but it's really true." He admires her because she's not afraid to say what she thinks. "My mom does what most people want (so do. Sometimes it can be embarrassing, but often it's just cool."

Jesse will graduate class Salutatorian this week, with the second highest grade point average (GPA) of his class. Randi Smith beat him by 0.1 GPA point to be Valedictorian. "She deserves the highest honor," he affirmed.

He has been president of the school's academic decathlon (ADS), which are the Quiz Bowl competitions, and a member of the National Honor Society, where students not only display academic excellence, but volunteer time to help the community. Last summer he volunteered with the Shining Stars program for mentally and physically handicapped children under 8 years old. "Their handicaps were sad, but they loved the activities," he remembered. "They were so happy and innocent."

He's grateful for all of his teachers, especially Mr. Richards and Mrs. Rawlings, who have been constant role models and helpful guides for students; and for a supportive community that shows up at all the school events. Four years of science field trips have shown him worlds outside of New Meadows, and given him valuable skills in planning and problem solving.

He's appreciated the phenomenal work of the new. English and drama teacher, Miss Linville, who has honed his acting and writing abilities. Jesse has acted in every school play since 9th grade. He enjoyed the total absorption, and the recognition was fun too. Recently in the Spring play Totally Red, a variation of themes on the Red Riding Hood story, he made his avant-garde debut as a co-director, and as a hysterically funny male actor playing the female Red herself.

An avid reader, he strongly relates to the principle character Chris in Into the Wild, who writes, "Joy does not emanate only or principally from human relationships;" and "We just have to have the courage to turn against our habitual lifestyle and engage in unconventional living." Chris' words give Jesse courage to face an unknown future. Jesse contemplated on their meaning. "God has put it out there, you just have to reach for it," he explained. Another favorite book, Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse Five, provides erratic poignancy and humor that remind him not to get stuck on the little things in life's journey.

Showing promise as a writer himself, his creative writing course and English assignments have molded his talents into artistically captivating literature. His theme poem, The Hue Cycle, begins... They hover in dark corners/The violet, violent thoughts of man... and continues through a sinister visual rainbow of man's existence.

How does a graduating student prepare himself for the next step in life? Jesse's taken advanced classes, trigonometry, calculus ("the hardest class I've ever taken"), advanced chemistry and physics. He even took a forensics class online this year through the Idaho Digital Learning Academy

(IDLA), which provided more interesting learning than he had imagined on crime scene investigation and substance abuse. "It's always good to stumble into things that catch your interest," he said.

He has learned how to cook his family recipe brownies and Baklava well enough to make friends and impress people. He also plays the piano well enough to get listened to. At home he treasures an Australian Aborigine didgeridoo, believed to be the world's oldest wind instrument. He shares a wide genre of music choices, especially Blue Grass.

He chose BYU in part because of its proximity to national parks. It was in the Utah desert where the isolation, the incredible rock formations and the night sky helped him really see, and made him believe in, "something for sure." The sheer size put his own life in perspective. He ponders how so many things all over the galaxies can be happening all at once. It reminds him of the National Geographic documentary Life in a Day, produced by Ridley Scott, how so many people go about living one day, all over the world.

An ideal vocation eludes him just yet; he wants more experiences to make that kind of decision. He knows he wants to better the world around him. "Be a good person and do good things, no matter what," he declared. For now, transitions, family, friends and summer forestry work with the Youth Conservation Corp are enough.

He's insightful about the high school recognition he has achieved, knowing that the world will not continue to reward him for good behavior like his home town has done. "I know these moments will be gone when I leave here, but it's good to have a place to return to where people will still remember me," he smiled.

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