The students in Tami Simundson's fourth-grade class at Wiley Elementary in West Richland have chosen a worthy hero.
Simundson's son, Clayton, is a redshirt freshman football player at Washington State University football who's never played in a college game, but he pursues his gridiron ambitions with a determination that inspires his young fans at Wiley.
Clayton was one of six WSU students chosen to join the team after open tryouts this year, but he struggled as a walk-on player. He was redshirted -- kept out of competition for a year -- and became a member of the scout team, which helps the Cougars' defense practice for games.
He had to stay in Pullman during Thanksgiving break to practice with the team before the Apple Cup but didn't get to go to the game itself. Despite missing a chance to play this year, he still went to practice each day and worked hard.
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Tami Simundson used her son's experiences to teach her students about perseverance, a lesson she's seeing her students using more and more in pursuit of their own goals
Clayton went with the team to the New Mexico Bowl, where he attended banquets and received some promotional gifts -- including a full Nike sweatsuit, a Diesel watch and Oakley sunglasses.
But the best thing he received this year was a bracelet made by fourth-grader Bailey Hausenbuiller, he said.
"We study character traits," Tami Simundson told the Herald. She didn't have to go far to find someone to model traits worth emulating.
Thumbs down to social media hucksters for proving that people will exploit any loophole they can find.
Workers at offshore "click farms" are tapping the thumbs-up button, view videos or retweet comments to inflate social media numbers for a fee, The Associated Press reported.
Clients include celebrities, businesses and even the U.S. State Department, which spent $630,000 to boost its Facebook likes. The agency said it would stop buying Facebook fans after its inspector general criticized the spending.
But The Associated Press found the global market for fake clicks is growing. Italian security researchers and bloggers Andrea Stroppa and Carlo De Micheli estimated in 2013 that sales of fake Twitter followers had the potential to bring in $40 million to $360 million, and that fake Facebook activities bring in $200 million a year.
It seems foolish to want a lot of fake friends and followers. But appearing to be attractive to a lot of people can make companies more profitable by holding onto web surfers who would otherwise pass them by.
"Any time there's a monetary value added to clicks, there's going to be people going to the dark side," said Mitul Gandhi, CEO chief executive of SeoClarity, a Des Plaines, Ill., social media marketing firm that weeds out phony online engagements.
There is an upside, however. Maybe some of Miley Cyrus' 16 million Twitter followers and 39 million Facebook likes are fake. We can hope.