Students balance school, jobs, home life and interests

By MIRANDA BROOKWELL

Youth Correspondent

Hi everyone.

My name is Miranda Brookwell and I’m a Grade 11 student at Ponoka Composite High School.

If you are looking for me, I can always be found dancing, volunteering in the community and travelling — I’ll go just about anywhere.

And now, I’m thrilled to be accepting the title of youth correspondent for Ponoka News.

Down the road, I plan on going to school to pursue a career in medicine, but for now I’m madly in love with the country and small town life.

I’m very excited and somewhat nervous to have such a fantastic opportunity to share some of the stories and adventures of my teenage life.

With the stresses of exams finally over, I realized something that amazed me about my fellow students — their ability to balance school, a job, and home life with their passions. Take, for instance, The Utilities, a local indie rock band consisting of some friends of mine — Drake McCheyne, Colby Stolson, and Joel Stretch.

I had the privilege of attending one of their practice sessions last week and was absolutely blown away by the talent that can explode out of three friends in one garage.

To call them a “garage band” would be a severe understatement.

I saw The Utilities play at a concert night in Red Deer a couple of months before, but there was something extra special about seeing them away from the stage.

Between amazing original songs and laughs, I had a chance to talk to Joel, Colby, and Drake about how they got started, their biggest influences, plans for the future, and their first album.

Joel, the lead singer and guitarist, told me “the band sort of came together by accident.” and through jam sessions, the workplace, and hanging out, the band was born. Their musical influences include artists The Tragically Hip, John Mayer, Tokyo Police Club, and Deathcab for Cutie. Drake, the band’s drummer, tells me with a warm smile that his biggest influence is his older brother, Bryn McCheyne. And, as for Colby, the bassist, “well, our influence is Joel.” I still don’t know if he was kidding or not.

When I asked them how they manage to balance the band with all other aspects of their lives, they told me it’s rather easy.

They don’t see it as a burden or chore, only pure passion and enjoyment, and part of their lives as much as anything else.

Colby, Joel, and Drake all hope they get a chance to take their musical talents further than central Alberta — not necessarily to fame and fortune, but enough to make a life for themselves, while loving every second of it.

The Utilities are a great local band with incredible talent and if you’d like to enjoy a great show and maybe even pick up a copy of their first album, “This Is As Light As It Got”.

Come out to Asker Church on Feb. 11, at 7:30 p.m.

“Expect a laid back, chill, and fun night,” said Joel, “with good people and good music.”

After watching them practice with friends — heads a bobbing, feet a tapping and even some singing along — I have no doubt that Friday night’s concert will be an incredibly awesome time.

If you want to check it out, head to Asker Church: east on highway 53 for about 20 minutes, once you pass Mecca Glenn School, about a minute later, there will be an Asker Church sign on your left. Turn left at the sign, drive for three-five minutes and the church will be on your left.

See you there.