Good news about youth

Published 11:18 pm Friday, November 21, 2008

With all the focus that gets put on things like dropout rates, on-time graduation, “Adequate Yearly Progress” and other benchmarks and statistics, it’s refreshing once in a while to take a step or two away from the numbers and see some real faces showing personal evidence of the work done by teachers and administrators in the public school system.

To be sure, there is more than enough evidence to be had of what happens when the educational system, parents, society or some combination thereof misses the mark with youth. Visit any jail or prison, and you’ll meet the results of those societal and educational failures. Talk to any police officer for very long about his job, and you’ll hear about the frustrations involved in dealing with widespread youth crime.

The problems with youth and drugs, youth and crime, youth and gangs are so widespread that they hardly rate as “news” anymore, at least not in the sense of man-bites-dog coverage of unusual events.

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What truly stands out today are the teens who have “got it together,” to borrow a phrase from back in the day. The youth who know what they want to achieve and have a plan to make it happen — the ones who have the self-confidence and self-respect to stand up straight, smile, shake a stranger’s hand, introduce themselves and start up a conversation — those are the ones who should be making news, both for the seemingly unusual nature of their character and for the things they will one day accomplish.

One place that seems to be a haven for such youth is the Pruden Center for Industry and Technology, the career and technical education center operated jointly by Suffolk and Isle of Wight County.

A recent visit to the facility produced ample human evidence that at least some of what educators are doing locally is inspiring students to be successful, confident and respectful members of the community. Now, that’s good news.