A little bit about a lot of things:

• Gustine Middle School will celebrate a big moment Tuesday, Feb. 25, when it hosts a formal ribbon-cutting at its new multi-purpose room/gymnasium.

This project has been a long time in the making.....too long, I think everybody would agree, but the focus has been on finally getting it completed and looking forward to a middle school future with a gymnasium in place.

That’s an amenity no middle school should be without.

A gym comes in pretty handy for things like physical education programs, athletics, assemblies....and is just an important component in general of having a complete campus. That doesn’t even begin to address community use opportunities, which are also an important consideration.

Walking into the new gymnasium offers a much different feel than stepping inside the aged gym down the street at the old middle school site.

The ribbon cutting is at 5:30 p.m. next Tuesday, Feb. 25. Community members are invited to attend and check out the new facility.

• Love the outreach from Gustine City Hall and Gustine Chamber of Commerce, which are partnering with UC Merced-based Small Business Development Center to host a business expo next Thursday evening, Feb. 27, from 5:30-7:30 p.m. at the Al Goman Center.

A wealth of valuable information on business basics and strategies, as well as the opportunity to meet one-on-one with experts, will be available at the free event.

Running a small business comes with no shortage of challenges, to be sure, and is not for the faint of heart. Success requires hard work, tenacity, commitment and entrepreneurial spirit.

The upcoming expo is open to existing business owners and folks who are considering starting a business of their own. It is open to those from Gustine, Newman and the surrounding area.

And yes, food will be served....which is why organizers are requesting (though not requiring) advance reservations to get a head count for the dinner. Register for free at bit.ly/GustineBusinessExpo, or call Tiffany Vitorino, 854-6471 for more information.

Should be an informative evening....

· Lots going on in Gustine these days....including the chamber’s new “Bites, Bottles and Brews” event Saturday evening at the Al Goman Community Center.

The event is a new take on the chamber’s previous wine, beer and cheese tasting fund-raiser. There will be plenty of cheese, wine and beer to sample, as well as food being served by two local restaurants and four organizations. Another new addition will be presentation of a business of the year award.

Tickets are $50 per person and include a complimentary wine glass (open to 21 and older only, please). Call 854-6975 or 587-0810 for tickets or more info.

• Proud to present our annual salute to FFA inside this week’s editions of the Index and Press-Standard.

I have always thought that the annual section could simply be entitled “Young Adults Doing Remarkable Things,” because that is the general theme that runs through the stories.

We have some amazing leaders among the student body ranks at Gustine and Orestimba, and FFA is one of the arenas in which those young adults shine.

I was a 4-H kid all the way through high school rather than an FFA member, but I can relate to some of the endeavors, particularly when it comes to livestock.

We are fortunate that both of our high schools and district administrations have been supportive of the ag programs, as are the communities as a whole.

That support has made more opportunities available to students, and the ag/FFA programs have flourished as a result.

Our FFA members wear the blue jackets with pride, and our communities are proud of them.

The ag courses that our schools offer are rigorous, broad-based and, it seems, ever-increasing in scope.

I am a fan of the hands-on learning approach which the ag programs embrace and FFA promotes.

Experiences such as raising an animal to show at the fair, learning plant science by doing, completing a wood working or welding project and so much more are learning moments that last a lifetime.

Most importantly, FFA is about leadership, integrity, communication, work ethic and responsibility.....traits which are so important for success but all too often lacking in our society. I am always impressed when speaking to local FFA member and this year was no exception.

I often marvel at some of the things which our local graduates go on to accomplish in life. Our small towns and schools turn out young adults who not only make their way in the world but make their mark on the world.

Many of them, like those FFA members of today, embraced all that FFA had to offer during their school years.....and are better for it.

Dean Harris the Managing Editor of the West Side Index and Gustine Press-Standard. He can be reached at dharris@mattosnews.com or by calling (209) 243-8104.