Adults are not the only ones who can make a difference in their communities.

Recently I interviewed two 17-year-old Esko High School students with opposing viewpoints. Alex Bourgeault and Karin Anderson were polite when I interviewed them and provided their different perspectives on the Esko Eskomos nickname controversy— the topic that caused them to start competing online petitions.

What impressed me the most was their ability to discuss the topic without belittling someone who disagreed with them. Bourgeault said he wasn't going to say anything negative about his classmate and said he thinks she is a smart person.

I could hear the smile in Anderson's voice when I told her what Bourgeault said. She said that was very nice of Bourgeault and continued talking about her perspective on the controversial topic.

Sadly, some people who signed the online petitions were not as mature.

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People feel entitled to spout off negative comments on most social media platforms about a given topic, as well as about other people who comment. Many people do not stay on the topic at hand, but belittle, name call and bully others to varying degrees.

It’s nice to see high school students see something they think is a problem and have the ability to discuss the issue in a mature, thoughtful manner.

Other area students made a difference in their own ways earlier this spring.

Ava Grondahl began her photography business and offered free cap and gown sessions for local seniors to help capture their big moment.

Amaija Halli, 11, saw a need in the community for masks in the early days of the pandemic. The Cloquet Middle School student began sewing to keep her occupied once schools closed due to the pandemic.

She asked her parents for craft supplies and they gave her a sewing machine. After a few lessons from an older sibling, Halli began to make masks. She accepted donations for the masks and raised hundreds of dollars, which she donated to the B&B Market food train. She also donated masks to a variety of organizations in need.

In my opinion, these young people are all class acts.

Jamie Lund is a reporter at the Pine Journal. She can be reached at