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Community role model retires

To the editor:

We are so grateful when adult role models enter the orbit of our children’s lives. In our community, there are many. Throughout their lives, my children have benefited from the examples of many motivated coaches, patient teachers, caring doctors and energetic shopkeepers who greet them with kindness and have genuine interest in their well-being.

Parents can orchestrate only so much when it comes to the influences on their kids’ attitudes and perspectives. The more diverse sources of love and examples of honorable character we can bring into our kids lives, the better for them, and the better for us all.

There is one exemplary role model for children in our community who has recently announced his planned retirement. Grand Master John O’Kelly and his wife, Master Lidia O’Kelly, joined our community in 2016 and opened Northeast Taekwondo in the “old Nori’s market” in “the old Sears building.” Their classes generated immediate interest, eager curiosity and a parking lot full of families with excited kids in white doboks.

Grand Master O’Kelly’s classes were full of humor, physical exercise, encouragement and discipline. He humbly held the attention, respect and admiration of his students in the way adults can do when they see the truth in children and trust them to rise to expectations. His classes were about strength of body, mind and character. The kids were proud to develop physical strength and were distracted by push-ups and jumping while they enjoyed, beyond their own understanding, the important growth of self-respect. Grand Master took his responsibility as a role model seriously and presented the kids with a consistent example of courtesy, integrity, perseverance, self- control and an indomitable spirit. His classes will be missed by many.

Katie Stoddard

Saranac Lake

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