Stell makes a difference in child's life

Staff writer

There’s no one like John Stell in the mind of eight-year-old Nathan Vinduska of Lincolnville. Stell was Nathan’s special guest at Blue Ribbon Day ceremonies Thursday at Centre High School.

Stell is his Grandma Judy’s friend from rural Topeka. He has become a surrogate “Grandpa” because all of Nathan’s grandfathers no longer are living.

Stell has sparked Nathan’s interest in trains. Stell worked for 38 years on the railroad, and his father had a friend who worked for the railroad before him.

“From age 7, I lived near the train yard at Galesburg, Ill.,” he said. “So I grew up around trains.”

Stell takes Nathan on daytime excursions to see real trains or model trains and eat out together. Sometimes, Nathan gets to ride on trains. He has books and videos about trains that he received from Stell.

“Nathan has learned a lot about trains,” Stell said. “He wants to be an engineer when he grows up.”

Sixth-grader Tyson Chizek invited Father Darrin May, Holy Family Parish priest, to be his special guest.

“He made a difference in my life,” Tyson said. “He taught me about God and the church.”

An estimated 450 people attended the special ceremony in which students and teachers honored individuals who have made an impact on their lives. Each guest received a blue ribbon.

Monte Selby, on the electric guitar, and son Michael, on electric guitar and keyboard, engaged the crowd with upbeat, lively music as well as serious songs about love and caring.

Monte Selby is a renowned motivational speaker and educator who is said to use music as a powerful force to teach and inspire. His father, Jim Selby, is a retired school superintendent living in Council Grove. Selby’s mother, Dona, is a musician, and he has an older brother and sister-in-law who are songwriters in Nashville. Until recently, a sister was music director in a large church in Kansas City.

Selby worked with students in separate classrooms throughout the day to get ideas for a new song. He performed the improvised song for the audience at the close of the day. The song will be recorded and posted on the school website, giving credit to Centre students.

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