Dear KES Family:
If you are ever losing hope in this young generation of teenagers, you have to come to our assembly sometime. Magical things happen.
The magic started this week when 11-year-old “Papa” Ofori took the microphone at the beginning of assembly. Instantly 353 adolescents hushed and gave this Grade 7 student from Ghana their full attention. When Papa invited me to the podium to begin my remarks, the applause (for him, not me) was heartwarming.
Later on, our Gay Straight Alliance made a presentation. It started with a video but the sound did not work. The images of common holiday and daily life scenes started to play silently across the big screen. Once again the entire student body was silent and respectful and focused. The ending was a surprise as the young man who had been featured in the video ended up as the groom at his own wedding in which he married another man. As the words “It’s Time” flashed across the screen the student body spontaneously erupted into supportive applause.
In the last week (let alone the last year), there has been tremendous discussion across Canada and the USA with regards to freedom of expression, specifically when it comes to social concerns of race, LGBT issues, women’s issues, or faith. I have been fascinated by the deep and emotional discussions people have been having with regards to private conscience and public and/or political statement. Professional sports teams and professional athletes (Canadian and American) in the NHL, the NBA, and the NFL have been in the spotlight. Popovich, the Head Coach for the San Antonio Spurs, stated that we have to start having “uncomfortable conversations” about these issues. The point of all this is that it appears our students are having these conversations. It occurred to me this week that maybe, just maybe, this young generation is so far beyond the older generation’s hang-ups that they wonder why these conversations are even necessary. I can say for certain that in my old high school we wouldn’t have cheered in support for gay marriage, let alone had a Gay Straight Alliance.
Children have the capacity to be thoughtless and mean. I see it frequently. However, I rarely see hate. Mostly, I see happy and encouraging signs that this young generation is light years ahead of us older folk when it comes to social issues and the acceptance of differences.