This past week’s attention given to high school athletes gave me a great idea for a special occasion I think would be inspirational for teenagers.
The media was eager to cover the annual hoopla surrounding high school football players as they signed letters of intent to various colleges around the country. Their signatures, in some corners, are treated like savior sheets for coaches, fans and college programs.
You could see on television grown men squeal with joy as they watched videos of 6-foot-6, 300-pound Jim Bob and 6-foot-1, 205-pound, fast-as-lightening J.J. Swatts destroying other teens, usually half their size.
OK, truth be told, I’m a football fan and was an athlete so long ago. Even so, I refuse to wait with bated breath to see 17- to 19-year-olds sit at a table, then grab a cap showing where he is going to college. There is nothing wrong with it, but it’s just not my cup of tea.
But this bothers me a little. There are some young men who place three, four and five hats in front of them on a table as a camera trains on them. The caps represent the schools that might get their awesome talents.
The young man slaps away the hats of the schools they didn’t choose. “Take that, Coach Sap, who treated me and my family with dignity. Please watch, as I show you no respect by smiling and swiping your funky hat off the table.”
Please stop doing that.
The big show sparked an idea for a unique program I wish every school would have. It would take a lot of work to pull off. Every year, a school could invite about 10 students who graduated 10 years prior and have become successful in life, not necessarily rich.
The honorees would be extra special. They would be former students who gave everything they had in the classroom but never got into the respected A-B crowd. These would be students who everyone knew were crushed by horrific family problems. Or they would be the students deemed odd and never in the popular groups.
We all had those classmates. For that matter, you may be that classmate.
I have friends who went to the military, returned and achieved great things. I have classmates who barely graduated and started their own businesses.
Others found a trade or landed a job that paid pretty well for people without a college degree or started families before heading to college.
I’m not talking about recognizing people who just made money and never attempted to use some of it or their time to make a difference in their community.
Bring back some of those students who can be role models for students who need the truth from people who know exactly what’s going on in their lives. I think they could reach a few troubled youths to let them know that no matter how tough life seems now, there is, indeed, a way for them to be productive and respected.
It would go something like this: Here, we have Annette X, one of four siblings raised by a single parent. Annette, who was barely an average student, helped raise her other three siblings because their mom worked two jobs to help the family get by.
Annette usually was tired when she came to class and often fell short with her homework.
Annette graduated No. 175 out of 190 students in her class. After graduation, she worked in several dead-end jobs, but after five years she decided to start an event-planning business. She became so good at it customers from around the country seek her out.
Additionally, she works with a volunteer group that assists high school girls with overcoming academic and social roadblocks.
Imagine this woman’s contribution to students at her alma mater or at any school. I know several people with these type of stories.
Now, that’s a special day of recognition program I would like to see.
Ed Pratt’s email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.