Looking at the bright side

Published 9:31 pm Wednesday, October 13, 2010

As a reporter, I see my fair share of the uglier side of the world — specifically, Suffolk’s world.

The newsroom is always among the first to know of a shooting, an arrest, a fire, a fight, a scandal and any time any agency or public official falls short of their office.

Many powerful stories of strength, love or redemption can arise out of even the worst circumstances, but if we’re not careful, it’s all too easy to be blinded by the negativity and the unexplainable tragedies.

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But, I got a chance to step outside all of that last week.

We got a call on Friday morning that a very special young lady was about to receive a crown at her homecoming rally.

Jade Brown, 20, has been a Lakeland High School student for the past five years in the special education program. She uses a wheelchair and communicates through sign language and other non-verbal means.

This is her senior year, and her family decided to help her run for homecoming queen.

Then, the magic happened.

Students who didn’t even know Jade came out of the woodwork to help her family and teachers with her campaign.

They stopped her family in hallway to tell Jade they’d be voting for her.

They even spent their time making posters and necklaces with her face on them.

She didn’t end up taking the queen’s crown home, but in a student-only election, she won one of the four queen candidate seats.

Students all had a different reason for voting for Jade.

Some said it was something nice they wanted to do.

Others said they wanted to show that it wasn’t a popularity contest, but that their school’s queen should be about more than being popular or being good at a sport.

Still others felt that having spent five years at the school, she deserved it.

Whatever the case may be, it was indicative that high school students are ready for a change and they want to be known for more than the status quo.

When they decide to endorse a cause, high school students have the ability to move mountains and — as these students proved — do something that has never been done before.

Jade was the first student in the special education program that has ever taken home a crown as far as the school’s principal, Dr. Whitley, can remember.

It is easy to focus on and remember the negative things that happen in our world, and that’s not a bad thing. When the emotions created by those memories and thoughts are harnessed, it brings awareness to overarching issues that need to be resolved and eventually create change in a community.

But let’s not forget — or worse, overlook or ignore — the good things that happen in our world.