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Something to Think About: It’s Time to Be Optimistic

Op/Ed By Michael Vaughn –


new michael vaughnIt is that time of year again, when young people all over our region are completing another year of school.

And, while all academic achievements are good, regardless of students’ achievement level, in this column, I would like to focus on those young people who are graduating from high school.

I believe, this time of year, for parents, teachers, administrators, politicians, clergy, etc., it’s time to be optimistic, and acknowledge the achievements made by these young people.

There is room for criticism to go around regarding education in our region (with a strong emphasis on the Rochester City School District).

However, what we should be calling for, at this time, is to recognize the young people who have overcome various obstacles, and still earned their high school diplomas (something that was wonderfully modeled by the Urban League’s Black Scholars Dinner).

While I do not believe in lowering the bar, or being phony relative to achievement, I do believe that we can focus on what is positive and provide our young people the encouragement to reach to the next level.

One example I can point to is an event my wife attended where she witnessed high school seniors in the city school district, and marveled at their behavior.

The behavior of these young people was juvenile, at best, and not that of those who were ready to leave high school.

However, the event did not focus on those who were woefully under prepared; instead the event focused on a student who took what was handed to him and made the best of it.

This student has aspirations to go to college, and will be the first one in his family to do so.

While the school system this student came out of was not the best, this student looked inwardly, and was able to be the best he could be, in order to set himself up for success.

This is where we may find our optimism!

My prayer is that this student will rise above the mediocrity he faced in high school, and that, when he is around other like-minded individuals in college, he will be able to excel, and achieve any dream he may have.

At our church, each year, we recognize the academic achievements of young (and old) people.

We believe that simple recognition, with the push to do more, can be the spark that takes someone from mediocrity to excellence.

It is our young folks with this type of attitude that provides me with optimism.

I choose to spend more effort focusing on, recognizing, and assisting people who are optimistic, rather than those who are pessimistic, or have just given up.

There is a lot of misery, and there are a lot of excuses to go around.

What we need is optimism and excitement to take life’s lemons and make lemonade.

Our young people must choose to rise above their challenges in life, and become the change they want to be.

Should we discount the educational system’s ills, and just bypass them? Absolutely not!

We need to do our best to rid our educational system of teachers, administrators, politicians, etc., who are out for themselves, or policies that are outdated.

However, as we do this, and as we point out the issues we see in the systems that are holding our young people hostage, we must also take the time to be optimistic about the few young people who do get through, and are going to the next level.

Then, before we realize it, more and more young people will be making it to the next level.

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