The newest recipient of the Jim Kook Citizen of the Year award in Outlook is someone who, like all winners of said award, is humble to the point where he isn’t quite sure what exactly he did to earn such an honor.
Outlook High School teacher Brent Larwood, a husband to Sylvie and a father to 7-year old Stacen and 5-year old Ellis, is still a little taken aback by the news. He feels he’s just one person in a large group of people who are helping to make Outlook a better place to live and call home.
“I’m not sure, to be absolutely honest,” said Brent, sitting down with The Outlook. “I was very surprised. I wasn’t sure why, and I still don’t quite know why! I love what I’m doing, and I’m not signed up to do anything that I don’t enjoy. I’m really thankful to have a spouse who lets me do a lot of that stuff, and I wouldn’t be able to do it without her. It’s just a weird thing. You just do things for the joy or the passion to help other people. It’s also the community. To live in a community where there are just so many programs and so much passionate people; I feel like I just kind of latch on to them and the wave that they have. We’re really fortunate.”
Larwood, who attended elementary school in Carrot River and graduated in Radisson, is something of a mould-breaker with his award win. At 35 years old, he’s now the youngest recipient of the honor. Typically, the award has shone a spotlight on older people who many point to as being the dedicated and long-time ‘movers and shakers’ in the community, but someone being recognized at a younger age perhaps says something about the shift that’s happening in Outlook where the newer generations are stepping up and doing what they can to make the town thrive and stand out.
“There are lots of people out there doing what I do too, and those are the kind of people I like to surround myself with,” said Brent. “They’re just so positive, and it’s such a relief to have all these programs in town. People being active and knowing what they love to do is just the best.”
When Brent isn’t in the classroom teaching science to future generations, he’s pitching in and committing himself to different groups and organizations. He’s been with the Outlook Fire Department for a few years now, as well as the Outlook & District Wildlife Federation. When those aren’t taking up his time, he enjoys coaching baseball and hockey with Outlook Minor Sports, and he’s also been lending his expertise in helping the new swimming pool facility lock in lifeguards.
“If I feel I can help someone save a lot of time, I’ll do it,” he said. “For instance, with the lifeguard thing. I used to be one, so I know these are the courses that I needed, but I can see where it’s changed in the last ten years. So for someone starting from scratch, I thought, ‘You know, if I can help out with that, that’s awesome.’”
For Brent, it’s being with people that helps motivate him to do more and involve himself.
“It’s just the people; I love people’s drive,” he said. “Even with you and your passion for media and photography, and just to find some group of people who has that same passion, you just embrace it and try to learn from it. Have fun, be happy.”
In his twelfth year as an educator, Larwood says he enjoys the challenge that comes with teaching young minds, and he hopes that when they’ve left his classroom, they’ve become more well-rounded people who look at the world with a balanced viewpoint.
“It’s hard, because with being a classroom teacher, you’re in front of 20+ kids that all have 40+ parents, and they come from such different backgrounds,” he said. “Some come in with a really broad point of view and think outside the box, and some come in with a narrow view, and so what I do is get the kids to see both sides of the coin. That can be hard at times, but again, being here for as long as I have, you develop those relationships and just build on them. They know what to expect when they walk into your classroom; they don’t have to figure it out, and they can just trust you. You just hope that when they do leave, they’re a little bit of a different person and more of an open-minded thinker. That’s what I get out of it, not just marking tests and that sort of thing.”
In Brent’s eyes, it’s the people of Outlook that make the community as strong as it is, despite the presence of different ideologies and opinions. He enjoys seeing people put aside such petty differences in order to help the town improve and succeed in different ventures.
“It’s the people,” he said. “Sometimes, people say Outlook’s a tough place, but it’s that size; we’re that perfect size where we’re not too big to have everything, and we’re not so small that not everybody knows everything. One thing that gets me, and we’ll look at one of Outlook’s fundraisers as an example; people will say, ‘If this would’ve happened in *this* community, we would’ve made three times the amount of money’. You’re right, but yet that community only has one or two of those a year, and we have like twenty of them! If we look at it as a big picture, we’re doing great. When you come together and make $50,000+, that to me is a huge reflection of the character we have in Outlook.”
Larwood says Outlook is comprised of a great mix of people who are all doing their part in making the town a better place, and he sees the shift that’s happening where younger people are picking up where older generations have started the foundation.
“We’re big enough that we do have lots going on,” he said. “We’ve got great businesses that are generous, we’ve got volunteers and groups of people that love what they do and want more people to enjoy it. To me, there’s a shift in Outlook going on right now where a lot of the people that have done things for years are retiring, and now there’s this next generation of different thinkers with different ideas, and any previous tension between groups is almost extinct. We’ve got to work together in order for all this to work.”
The Outlook likes to ask every Citizen of the Year recipient this question to end an interview – what would you say to someone who was looking to move to Outlook? In Brent’s view, people just have to immerse themselves to see and appreciate what the town can offer them.
“You’ve gotta get here,” he said. “It’s affordable to live, and the pace of life is awesome. There’s that wonderful traffic where you don’t even have to worry about in Outlook. You can bike to school, your kids can bike around town, and it’s a safe community. Everybody’s kind of got an eye and ear out for everybody, whether they agree with their philosophies or not. You can drive two minutes out of Outlook and feel like you’re in the middle of absolute nowhere, and yet you can drive an hour and you’re in the biggest city in Saskatchewan. It’s just got that kind of perfect location and a solid group of people that are looking to support you in any way that they possibly can.”
Brent Larwood will be honored as the 2018 Jim Kook Citizen of the Year at the Community Appreciation Awards banquet on Thursday, May 30 at the Outlook Civic Centre.