09/01/2009 - "What do you like to do most?" I ask Alex Amshey when we meet at Crossroads Park.
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"PLAY!" he shouts as he races over to the playground equipment and starts climbing the nearest structure. How silly of me. What other response should I expect from a 9 ½ year old boy? For the next half hour or so, Alex flits from the tower to the swings to the tire stacks and the fire pole, answering my questions while he stays at the business of playing.
"What do you like best about school," I ask.
Again, what else should I expect from a fourth-grade boy? "So what do you like best about gym?"
"What do you hate most?"
Well if I ask obvious questions, I guess I should expect obvious answers, huh? Eventually I get my interviewing act together and learn a few interesting things about this active Bar Nunn student. When he isn't in school, Alex likes to ride go carts.
"We have a really old one at home," he tells me. "It won't start when you want it to though."
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Alex also likes climbing on "really high rocks and big jungle gyms." He tells me this as he climbs to the top of the tower and looks down on me. "And hanging upside down!"
"I like deer hunting with flashlights and guns," he tells me. "I have my own .22 and someday when I'm 10, I'll go hunting with papa."
Alex has lived with his papa and gramma, Sam and Jodie Amshey, for three years. Their legal adoption of Alex became final in December 2008.
"I like it," Alex says about being adopted.
This is Alex's second school year in Wyoming after the family moved here from Michigan. As a new Wyomingite, Alex says he likes football and the Wyoming Cowboys. "They're the best thing about Wyoming," he says emphatically.
When he isn't claiming to hate school, Alex is proud of his accomplishments there. "I had the highest score yesterday at school," he says. "I had 288 for doing good, following directions, that kind of stuff."
Alex also enjoys making art projects at school. "I'm an art person," he says, "I make stuff like pots for plants."
Someday Alex would like to make bigger things like a fire pit. "I'm into that stuff," he says, "like building things."
Playing on the fire pole and talking about fire pits reminds Alex that he would like to be a wildland firefighter when he is grown up. "I want to cut down trees when there are brush fires," he says as he slides down the pole. "I'm practicing sliding down fire poles," he informs me as his feet touch the ground for only a second before he spots something shiny and runs over to check it out.
"Oh, a quarter!" he shouts, picking it up and stuffing it in his pocket.
Alex is constantly in motion, burning off afterschool energy. But in the midst of all the activity, it is obvious his sharp mind is moving as fast as his body. Even though he's too busy playing to stop and look at me, his answers become increasingly insightful.
"What is most important to you?" I ask, expecting answers containing bikes and PlayStations.
"Talking to people one-on-one and getting to know them," he says, "because it's important to understand people."
And that right there is what makes Alex one of Casper's Cool Kids.