A few weeks ago, I was standing in the hallway at our high school during a passing period, and I just watched the kids go down the hall, and I thought, “We have some pretty amazing kids here.” They may not look or dress like we did. They have a few more piercings and tattoos than my high school classmates did, but I would put them up against my graduating class any day, and I don’t think you’d be able to tell the difference.
I hear people comment about how they dress, and yeah, I get that. Saggy pants, holey jeans, shorts over tights – not my idea of fashion, but unless it interferes with their learning, let it be.
I hear people talk about texting all the time, and I think about the hours I spent sitting on the third step in my parents’ house, stretching the phone cord around the corner so my parents didn’t hear what I was saying. And notes, we passed a lot of notes in my day.
I hear people talk about the lack of manners, and I think about the number of kids who hold open doors, say please and thank you, and apologize when you call them out for letting a word slip out that they know better than to use.
I hear people talk about how lazy and self-centered this generation is, and I think about the number of kids who work full-time jobs while going to school, the number of community service hours the National Honor Society kids put in, the blood drives sponsored by Student Council, the anti-bullying campaigns sponsored by student groups, and a plethora of other community based activities.
I look at the scholarships earned each year – over $1.4 million for our high school with a class of 169 students. I see kids who don’t plan to go to college but have a direction, a focus.
I look at the kids who are still in the building after the bell rings, even the seniors who were so excited to be done but weren’t quite ready to leave, and I see them for what they are: our future.
They’re not all perfect, but the sky isn’t falling. Yes, there are those who will make bad choices, those who will fail, and those who fall between the cracks, just like the last generation, and the one before that, and the one before that.
Oh, those year book pictures will come back to haunt them just like did every other generation. (Seriously, who convinced us that featherd hair looked good?), but in the big picture, it’s not what’s on the outside that counts.
Our kids are pretty amazing. I work with them every day, and I see their hopes and dreams, and they aren’t much different from my generation. My friends and I turned out pretty well, and I’m confident this generation will, too.