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Good Morning Nanty Glo!
HAPPY NEW YEAR 2003        Tuesday, January 14 2003 

Jon Kennedy, webmaster Ah youth

Visiting my friend, Lucille's, high school short story classes in November was a highlight of my year. I once taught teenagers in Sunday school, got a tour of the Blacklick Valley High School shortly after it opened while I was living and working in New Jersey. I even got to address a high school assembly in the deep south— Vicksburg, Mississippi—when I was chairman of International Christian Youth, circa 1968. But I hadn't visited, much less taught, in a high school classroom since my own graduation.

I could categorize the two classes I met as bright (B and C students generally) and brighter (A and B), and it seemed there was an observable correlation between their grade standing and their behavior in the class. The fact that the school was so large that students could be grouped so particularly was a revelation to one whose whole graduating class was no larger than either of these groups, and we were always represented by the full spectrum in the grading scale (A's to F's) in every class.

I raised three teenagers to adulthood, and of course even was one myself once, so I'm no stranger to the subpopulation. But I'm sure the side of many if not most teenagers in our culture, the role they adopt and fulfill in school, is different than the one they show to parents at home, especially if their parents have separate homes and the teens have adapted to playing to each parent's styles of parenting and their distinct expectations.

This fascination of observing the teenagers was matched by seeing the public school universe in a more objective or more mature (and I hope it was both) perspective than ever before. This is a world with as much dramatic potential as a hospital emergency room and populated by an equally diverse cast of characters. There have been only a few successful high school-based series on television (Welcome Back Kotter, Beverly Hills 90210 ), compared with what seems endless hospital-set series (from Dr. Kildare to ER), and I'm guessing that too many people identify with high school culture too closely to find the high school dramas as entertaining as the medical ones. Audiences can be "objective" about doctors and nurses because most of us will never be closer to them than patients. But we've all been high school students, sharing all the drama and uncomfortable pain and embarrassment that entails.

From which point we'll continue tomorrow, launching out from my days in the classroom last November, for some thoughts about student life and schools more generally. If you'd like to join the discussion, either from the student or "older adult" point of view, please jump in!

—Webmaster Jon Kennedy

 Words to the wise

Never slap a man who's chewing tobacco.

—Will Rogers
Sent by Sally Covolo

Thought for the day

The quickest way to double your money is to fold it over and put it back in your pocket.

—Will Rogers
Sent by Sally Covolo

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