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Sarah Palin may have introduced the country to Wasilla, Alaska, but she has very strong competition now. A young woman -- she's 12 -- with a strong Hastings connection has written and published her first novel, "Chaderick - Not a Vampire, Not a Zombie, Not a Superhero," which is now available through Barnes & Noble and Amazon. Lauren DW Luchsinger Fox's book can also be purchased at several area book stores in Wasilla. "The idea just sort of came to me and it started going," said Lauren. Her grandparents Gary and Kathy Fox live here and her mother, Dena, grew up here.
Most of the students at Pinecrest Elementary School probably had never been exposed to string instruments. On Friday morning, that changed. The second- to fourth-graders became better acquainted with the help of the Royal Strings, an area musical quintet. For about an hour there was music from the cello, bass, viola and two violins as well as interaction with the musicians. The appearance of the Royal Strings, who visited Hastings schools in 2009, was made possible through a "What If" grant provided by the Hastings Public School Foundation.
Members of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton School's eighth-grade class served the community as they volunteered part of their day at Sharing and Caring Hands in Minneapolis Jan. 18. The parish has had a long-time relationship with Sharing and Caring Hands since it began in 1985. On the third Wednesday of each month, the parish has provided a hot, nutritious meal at the shelter. Since 1987, students have had the opportunity to serve the clients of Sharing and Caring Hands once a year.
Rick Santorum was easily the favorite of Minnesota Republican caucus-goers Tuesday night. Republican caucus goers in Hastings liked him, too. In the city of Hastings presidential preferential straw vote, Santorum won with 58 votes. Ron Paul was a very close second with 57 votes, followed by Mitt Romney with 36 votes and Newt Gingrich with 26 votes. The turnout for the Republican caucuses was not a surprise, said Tony Horton, Hastings Republican caucus site leader and House District 57B chair. "The turnout was about what our leaders expected," he said.
The Hastings community cares. That has often been demonstrated at the holidays, during disasters and crises as people reach out to help one another. For three days last week - Feb. 2 to Feb. 4, they did it again.
The winning word for Kelsey Baker was "barren." The St. Elizabeth Ann Seton fifth-grader spelled the word correctly on the 10th round of the annual school spelling bee Monday and was named best speller. Fourth-grader Andy O'Brien was the runner-up and Monica Caulkins was the alternate.
Faith, academics and service are all connected at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic Church in Hastings. That combination has helped to make the school strong for more than 50 years. Next week, Jan. 29 to Feb. 3, the Hastings Catholic school, along with others throughout the nation, will celebrate Catholic Schools Week. The school is strong and stable, stressed Principal Jill Moes, because of the parishioners, community and business support. She has been impressed by the support of the church, parents, the community and local businesses, she said.
The local election season begins here soon. The Minnesota Political Party Caucuses will be held at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 7. The ballot will be a full one this year, including the race for President, one senate position (currently held by Amy Klobuchar), all congressional seats, as well as Minnesota's legislative seats. What happens there? The precinct caucuses are meetings organized by the state's political parties.
A large group of volunteers will give their time for three days in early February to help starving children in another part of the world. The Feed My Starving Children MobilePack has filled all 2,500 volunteer slots for the upcoming Feb. 2-4 meal packing project at Hastings High School. And the Twin Cities-based Feed My Starving Children has made the commitment that 500,000 meals will be prepared and packed during those three days in Hastings. The project coordinator, the Rev. Joe Hannah, expressed some surprise at the response.
"Hastings Reads" - simply put, that's the goal of the community-wide program set to begin. The program encourages reading and discussion of books by all ages. That discussion then can help more people understand their lives and the experiences of themselves and others. The 150th anniversary of the Civil War is being remembered this year through the selection of reading materials for students, programs for families and a one-time showing of a Hollywood film classic at the Hastings theater. Books for the different student levels are set.