HUGS go to … the Denton Area Retired School Personnel Association for giving 76 books to Denton Christian Preschool and 399 books to the Krum Early Education Center in 2021. We hear a lot about teachers spending money to outfit their classes and get school supplies and materials into students’ hands. We needed the reminder that teachers and school employees — who are too often maligned — continue to give to students, even after they retire. We have a feeling the retired teachers will give even more books to students this year.

HUGS go to … the University of North Texas journalism students in professors Mark Donald and Thorne Anderson’s classes who have been responsible for our ongoing Transformers series. For several years now, the Denton Record-Chronicle has been publishing articles, online packages, photos and videos from the UNT students that document the people and agencies behind transformational change and improvement in our community. Transformers subjects have ranged from a midwifery clinic to a healing garden to the latest installment, a profile of a unique program for adults with special needs at Blue Sky Therapeutic Riding & Respite. The series has brought to light many of the unheralded efforts that make our community special, told with care and authenticity in a manner that moves us all. Additional thanks go to professors Donald and Anderson for the heavy lifting and editing in getting these packages ready for publication. Look for additional installments to publish soon.

HUGS go to … the online hawks on the Denton subreddit who post faithfully when they see the “Denton bonsai lady” and drop the intersection where she sells small bonsai trees from her van. Locals always seem to miss her and ask her whereabouts, and local internet strangers share sightings in real time. It’s the perfect example of neighbor helping neighbor.

SHRUGS go to … the return of record-shattering numbers of active COVID-19 cases in Denton County, driven in large part by the increased infection rate of the omicron variant but also the continued lax and irresponsible response by some within our community, state and nation. The skyrocketing case numbers have resulted in closures at city facilities, capacity concerns at area hospitals and now the return of canceled classes in several area school districts. It is not by coincidence that the current spike comes following a return to traditional holiday gatherings — often among unmasked individuals — and the continuing plateau in COVID-19 vaccinations. As we have said often from this space, no one wants to go back to the turmoil and disruption we endured in mid-2020, so please do your part: Wear a mask when in public, particularly indoors; get fully vaccinated; and continue to practice social distancing.

HUGS go to … all the Denton-area nominees for the McDonald’s All-American high school basketball games named this week. Guyer High School power forward KyeRon Lindsay, Argyle High School’s Caroline Lyles and Braswell High School standouts Jazmyne Jackson and Alisa Williams were all among more than 750 players who were nominated nationally. University of North Texas women’s signees Breanna Davis, a point guard from Red Oak; Jahcelyn Hartfield, a guard from South Grand Prairie, and Ereauna Hardaway, a point guard from Jonesboro, Arkansas, were also nominated. The final rosters of 24 boys and 24 girls will be announced on Jan. 25 before the games March 29 in Chicago. Congratulations to all the local standouts and future members of the Mean Green who were selected.

Send us your Hugs & Shrugs: We’re always looking for contributions to this editorial from readers like you. If you wish to share your praises or concerns, email them to drc@dentonrc.com.

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