In the pile of plushies in my family’s former basement playroom, lay my older sister’s cherry-red Tickle Me Elmo, an iconic toy box staple for children in the mid to late ’90s. I recall the screws of his hidden battery pack having a faint dusting of orange rust over them. They were crusted on so tight, it was almost impossible to open the compartment. What was remarkable was, that in all the years we had him, the batteries were never changed. However, his laugh still lived on for what seemed like forever. His mighty cackle is something that will always be engrained in my brain. A sound that is everlasting, just like the memories I have from spending hours in that playroom as a child.
Known by my friends for my loud, unforgiving laugh, Elmo’s roar was something I could strangely relate to. The sound of pure joy. Though this stuffed animal was a miniscule morsel of my younger years, it is amazing to see the impact that certain characters can have on our lives. On page 14, I spoke with Maple Grove Senior High School alumna Liz Hara about her incredible career as a writer, puppeteer and puppet builder. Striving to create a world where young viewers can see themselves represented in media, Hara was one of the founding creators behind the recent debut of Sesame Street’s first Asian American Muppet character, Ji-Young.
Continuing the legacy of the Maple Grove community are four outstanding 2023 seniors on page 18. After a two-year hiatus of our Senior Spotlight feature, writer Madeline Kopiecki honored some local students, who have accomplished so much in these tumultuous years.
Cheers to a new season of growth and discovery.
Until next time, readers!