June 25, 2008 · Updated 11:48 AM
"Photo: Briony Morrow-Cribbs and Estevan Munoz-Howard are graduating from South Whidbey High School this spring. They are this month's Hometown Heroes.Matt Johnson/staff photoHometown HeroesEach spring Hometown Hero honors are awarded to two graduating high school seniors who exemplify the philosophy of volunteerism and service and act as positive role models for their peers and others in the community. This year's Hometown Heroes are Briony Morrow-Cribbs and Estevan Munoz-Howard.BRIONY MORROW-CRIBBSMy hair is just a way to express outwardly my fun and artistic side at this time of my life. It also has turned out to be an opportunity to challenge people's ideas and to depress stereotypes. The most accepting and open minded generation toward my hairstyle is the older, senior one!Being authentic and nonjudgmental are traits important to South Whidbey High School senior Briony Morrow-Cribbs.Never be afraid to be the real you, and when forming opinions about others, look past the outward appearances and their differences from yourself, she says.Cribbs sets an example to aspire to. She has worked diligently to attain a 4.0 grade point average since seventh grade. She is also, says Sharon Shoemaker of Clinton, a kind human being and caring listener, and never pretentious.Briony's not afraid to show her real self. She greets her parents with hugs and kisses, for example, Shoemaker said. She has a way of making you feel comfortable when she's with you. Shoemaker says that after spending time with Cribbs, she has great hopes for the next generation.Wherever she walks there's going to be roses.Cribbs says being authentic is perhaps the must important value we can bestow on this world. How else can we share the original gifts that only we have to give? she said. Perhaps suppressing their real selves is why some people feel a need to drink or take drugs, or resort to violence, or engage in other destructive and nonproductive lifestyles, Cribbs said. All ages could benefit from living genuinely. People shouldn't allow their fear of failure or making mistakes to keep them from going after their dreams, she said. I used to think it was only talent or natural ability that we needed to fulfill our desires, but I know now that's only a small portion. It's really all about desire and commitment.Cribbs uses herself as an example of a time when fear held her back from expressing who she really was.I used to be extremely shy and self-conscious, she said. What if I did something wrong or dumb? But after my freshman year, I decided I'd never find out what I have to give to this world if all I think about is making mistakes or what others think of me.So, she said, I took a chance, and did something I really wanted to do. I ran for office.Cribbs wrote her speech reflecting her true thoughts and feelings, regardless of what others might think of it.After the speech, I said in a loud voice: 'You need someone with ENDURANCE!' and then I unsnapped my dress, showing my South Whidbey track outfit underneath.She ran around the stage and then off to show she had the endurance needed for the job.It was like a metaphor for me -- coming out of my shell, she said. From that moment on, whether I won the election or not, I knew I would fulfill a dream I had as a young child reading Lupine Lady.In the story, Cribbs explained, the Lupine Lady decides to make her world a more visually beautiful place. She rides her bicycle around her town throwing lupine seeds everywhere in her path. The Lupine Lady later noticed that the colorful lupine flowers made people smile.It's a good mission, I think, to make a difference, to want to change the world around us, making it a more beautiful place in our own personal, unique way, she said.To realize this mission, Cribbs said, we have to be brave enough to go out of our comfort zone and share our true selves with those in our lives.Briony Morrow-Cribbs is interested art, music, printmaking, bookmaking, running, and is involved in numerous community activities, including the Big Sister program, Outdoor Club, ASB (associated student body), band president, SWHS mascot, cross country team captain, Triathlon, Valedictorian, Principal's Scholar award, volunteer with the Island Arts Council, Whidbey Island Center for the Arts, Langley Middle School and Close-Up Foundation.What others say about BrionyBriony is extremely talented in art, music and socially. She's a unique human being, and a real joy to be around. She's always caring and sensitive to other people's feelings. I've never met anyone who didn't like Briony.Brent Purvis, SWHS band and music directorBriony's shyness has blossomed, and her creative talent has soared. She's well on the way to making her own mark. I look forward to following her journey.Meredith MacLeod, ClintonBriony is my 7-year-old daughter Anna's idol. Whenever Anna spends time with Briony she comes home with beautiful artwork and stories. Briony is solid gold, an old soul, who's always genuine. Too many have the wrong kind of media role models. They would be much better off to try and emulate Briony and people like her.Harriet Behncke, FreelandShe is so understanding. Briony isn't afraid of what others think. Today she wore a hula skirt to school with me. She's an inspirational role model because she is hard working and dedicated. Even when she had an injury and could no longer run for track, she went to ALL of our games to cheer us on and help us. She's the kind of person anyone will talk to about anything.Elisha Ishii, SWHS studentESTEVAN MUNOZ-HOWARDI was in a lively discussion with my older son, Daniel, who was 7 at the time, when he indicated that if he won the lottery he would definitely NOT spend his money on nuclear armaments, when Estevan interrupted and announced, But brother (actually he said bwotho since he couldn't pronounce his 'r's at the time), good people could have armaments. Estevan, why would good people need armaments, his brother impatiently replied.So they can hang them on their Christmas tree!Wit, good sense and integrity have long guided Estevan in making good choices. Those same qualities have guided him in taking responsibility for poor ones. I've loved being Estevan's mom. Que Dios te bendiga, Mijo.Peggy Munoz, MomSeems there are already enough slackers in this world, shirking their responsibility toward their families or community, says Estevan Munoz-Howard. I don't want to add another one, he says. I want to maintain a clear conscience, knowing my intentions are good toward others, and that I've tried my best in everything I do.Coach John Jelinek of Langley says about Howard: I wish I had more young men like him turn out for soccer. He will do whatever we ask of him, and more. Even though he's a premier athlete in his own right, he's not someone who needs to be a star.Jelinek says it's people like Howard who have turned this program around.I've seen him take the time to help other students in their academics or their sport, he said. It's young men like him that make me want to coach.Howard himself credits his philosophy about life to his parents and his grandparents -- specifically, his grandfather Joe, whom he calls Papa.Papa came to California from Mexico as a child and learned his hard work ethic at a young age, picking fruits in the orchards, Howard said. He saved his money, worked long hours, and bought a home of his own at age 15. He continued to work hard and helped to house other families.Those qualities of work ethic and honesty, as well as Papa's always being a gentleman, made a lasting impression on young Howard, who says his Papa is the salt of the earth, who always goes the extra mile.Always do your best is how Howard tries to live his own life. Whether it's in academics, volunteer work or sports, giving it your all shows respect for yourself and others.To maintain his best effort, he says he does have to make choices from time to time. Most recently, he felt he must cut down the number of his weekly work hours. When I was about five years old, I wanted to be my dog, he said. Laying around all day with nothing to do looked really good to me.He said he was kind of living his dog's life in the seventh and eighth grades. I would come home after school and just turn on the TV, and didn't turn it off until my mom came home from work at 7 p.m. and made me do it.It was in high school, when he began to get involved in other activities, that he realized what a waste of time watching TV had been.Now I rarely watch television. If I do, I choose a particular program and turn it off right after it's over, so I don't get lured into watching some other show, he said.Polly Schmidt says when Howard apprenticed at the South Whidbey Children's Center, the energy he put into his time there made an impact on both the children and the adults.Estevan was a delight, and so amazing with all the children. He quickly recognized and initiated any help that was needed without waiting to be asked, Schmidt said. He came up with ideas and planned activities for the center. He's someone who will give his absolute full effort, way above what's expected, she said.Papa taught me, Howard said. By watching how he lived his life, I learned to always give everything you've got.He believes he can retain his desire of a clear conscience by following his grandfather's example: not to give into laziness or the easy way out, and never to forfeit integrity for anything.Estevan David Munoz-Howard enjoys soccer, travel, hiking, camping, music, dancing -- salsa and swing. His school and community involvement includes tutoring band students, Camp Cornet counselor, Pep Band, National Honor Society, Scholar-Athlete (Marketplace), Student of the Month, Spanish tutor at Intermediate School, volunteer tutor to third graders, environmental volunteer, Outdoor Club, Key Club, Hi-Q, Solo Club, soccer, tennis and Jazz Band.What others say about EstevanEstevan is one real nice guy, a fair kid. In fact, he's just fantastic. He'll accomplish whatever he sets out to do. I know it. When his mother and I were divorced, we let the boys know we will always love them, and be here for them. We've remained on the island, sharing the raising of them. Both Estevan and his brother Daniel are just great. I'd raise one hundred more if they'd all turn out like these two. Paul Howard, Dad in LangleyEstevan excels at everything he does. I have no doubt that he'll continue his outstanding effort as an adult. He's just a top notch young man.Brent Purvis, SWHS Band and Music directorEstevan is a good person to talk to. He listens, and he's smart, so his advice is good, too. He's a great role model because he helps a lot of people out. He's really friendly and has a fun sense of humor, always can make people laugh. He loves to throw bits of paper at me. He's passionate about whatever he does, and a good dancer. It's fun to watch him and his girlfriend Elisha dance.Mandi Melecki, SWHS student"