THUMBS UP to students working to be their best in the classroom and help the community.

The McAlester News-Capital and Patriot Auto McAlester partnered again this year for a Student of the Year Program designed to recognize the leaders of tomorrow.

Local students are selected each month based on their grades and community leadership. Each student of the month becomes eligible to be named Student of the Year and win a new car.

Last year’s winner was Crowder graduate Kiley Watkins, who was class valedictorian with a 4.14 GPA and more than 80 hours of community service.

We applaud young leaders working to brighten our area’s future.

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THUMBS UP to all the local events in the coming week.

McAlester’s Main Street Association is set to present the city’s annual Trunk-or-Treat on Saturday for trick-or-treaters to celebrate Halloween early along Choctaw Avenue. The McAlester Youth Arts Council will add some scares with a haunted house at the McAlester Tourism Office Oct. 26-30. A Halloween Block Party is set for 5-8 p.m. Friday at 512 South George Nigh Expressway in McAlester.

Hartshorne’s street race event will also feature some Halloween-fun Saturday with drivers handing out candy to trick-or-treaters and children set to race powerwheels prior to the big races.

Community events bring people together to share moments, laughs, conversations, hugs.

We are all neighbors and should make more time to treat each other as such. Local events give us the opportunity to meet or catch up with our neighbors.

So we encourage people to attend local events, smile and talk to people, ask them how they are doing and share the community with your neighbor.

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THUMBS UP to community leaders for researching and seeking community input before deciding to arm personnel.

Members of the McAlester Public Schools Board of Education discussed this week whether to act upon a policy allowing the board to approve school personnel to carry handguns on district property.

Board members voiced concerns with arming school personnel — but expressed the importance of considering it as an option to keep children safe.

The Pittsburg County commissioners discussed arming employees at the county courthouse before deciding to add a security officer at the facility.

People must feel safe in public — including parents dropping off their children at elementary school and people dropping off paperwork at the courthouse.

Elected officials are right to research which security options will work best, and to check with community members to see what would make them feel safest.

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