Remembering Sterling Atkins

Note: Sterling Atkins, 18, died this last weekend of heart failure from an unknown cause. He was watching TV with a friend and had a seizure. The EMTs responded within minutes but they were not able to restart his heart. He was a student at Chadron State College. The staff of the Custer County Chief wishes to extend to his family our prayers and condolences. Words at these times are so inadequate.Sterling wandered in and joined our office family the fall of 2011 and what a breath of fresh air. He blessed our staff with his presense during his senior year as our high school intern for the fall semester. He somehow, in his special way, and with that engaging smile of his, made us better people. There will be a celebration of his life Feb. 15 at the Berean Church in Broken Bow beginning at 11 a.m.In his honor, we reprint one of his columns from ‘The Ramblings of a Teenage Cowboy,’ the one that launched his stay at the Chief ... Thanks Sterling - we’ll miss you. Deb 'THANKS TEACH' By STERLING ATKINSChief ReporterSeptember 2011 -- The first weeks of school have come and gone ever so slowly. Teachers have made their final decisions about which students are going to pass and which ones will not. In the hallways the drama is unfolding, friends are reconnecting, student running back and forth for the assignment they “left in their locker.” And before I begin with the rest of my column, I’d like to give a short recognition to my teachers who have put up with me for all these years.As a senior, I owe everything that got me here to you. Hope you enjoy some of the humorous/maybe not so humorous memories!Have you ever wondered how our teachers haven’t wrung some of our necks throughout the years is beyond me. Just imagine having to put up with yourself for an hour a day, 5 days a week, 36 weeks a year. I don’t know about you, but it makes me cringe. Looking back, most would describe me as hell-on-wheels. And of course, Mrs. Neth is reading this laughing and nodding, along with Mrs. White. (I still remember the blue token you gave me for calling me Spencer for the fifth time that day!)And of course, remembering Mr. Hartman and his cursive class that worked wonders. My mom still wonders where her fourth grade child, that had such beautiful handwriting, went … well … that’s in the past … and checking my planner every day at the end of school for the whole first semester, sorry about the inconvenience. If it helps any, I have finally found that it really does help! Yeah, yeah laugh it up “it only took you eight years to figure that out! I know I deserve every bit of it.Oh and the field trip to the Henry Doorly Zoo incident was not entirely my fault! I was only checking to make sure the bird was real…then just chased it around to make sure it was ok. (What?! ... We do that with our cattle all the time) Oh yeah, the “fond” memories of the principal’s office ... whatever it was I was charged with (and usually guilty of) would always end up with something like, “…now would you do that at home?!” ….and I could always grin and say honestly, “Well yeah!?”After a few years, and two or three principals, I kinda figured out that maybe being truthful isn’t quite what adults like to hear. So to Mr. Ridenour, sorry for all the grey hairs I was probably directly responsible for. I will give you credit. That paddle you kept by your desk was quite intimidating ... it is such a shame that “spare the rod, spoil the child” has been transformed to “you touch the brat, you get sued.Anyway, back on topic, to Mr. Goodman, I believe your class was the first where my teacher had more energy than I did, wait, Mrs. McCaslin … actually I do think will have to take a lead in the energy department. I was more concerned with dodging her kisses than getting in trouble! Not to say I didn’t ever manage to squeeze in a trip to the office or two, or that she never planted a good one on my cheek either. But over time, I think I have mellowed out some, and again I know every teacher listed is laughing at that also.Thank you all for making me the best that I could be … even when my future might not have seemed so bright in your mind, having fantasies of wringing my neck and so forth. Thanks again and for putting up with me, I couldn’t have gotten to where I am without you.Oh, and one more thing, I DID NOT KICK THAT BALL INSIDE!!! It was rolling towards me so I nudged it out of the way, then another kid smashes it into the next semester!!And I had to write one hundred times the words … umm … I don’t even remember what I was never to forget. Well anyways it wasn’t me!Well “abda-abda-abdeyy that’s all folks”!Ya’ll have a good one ... (porky pig imitation to those too young to remember the good cartoons – you tube him)