Future leaders often find their passion early
Where will the next generation of artists, professional athletes, scientists and doctors come from? They are with us now, along with the next generation of farmers, electricians, mechanics and computer programers. I suppose the next generation of bad apples is here, too, but it doesn’t have to be that way.
Something will nudge each child into his or her future choices.
Adults making a positive impression on youths has been a recurring topic of late.
School board member Cheryl Rugan commented this week that school counselors can help children as they make the transition into pre-adolescence. “Those kids are reachable,” she said. “(Middle school) is a time they could use a little support and maybe change the whole trajectory of their life.”
Judge Tom Webb, who spoke to Great Bend students in February — and to teachers last August — said deliberate acts of kindness had an impact on his life. And he watched his mother, Ruth Webb, do the same thing for her students. She was the kind of school teacher that inspires others to take up that profession — or some other worthwhile goal.
“Every person that she came in contact with, she treated that person with respect and value,” Webb said.
This kind of leadership isn’t limited to adults. He told students, “Have a positive impact on the lives that you touch.”
In school, elective courses and clubs can expose students to community service and a love of life-long learning; they may even influence their future careers.
Great Bend High School agriculture instructor Kevin Hoff said the FFA club he sponsors has 82 members. They try to do community service projects several times a year. They helped Great Bend Co-op personnel tarp a temporary pile of corn last October. FFA members also helped run the petting zoo at Kids Ag Day, and they put together Thanksgiving dinner boxes for the Family Crisis Center in November.
Great Bend Attorney Robert Feldt recently commented that another way to inspire children is to take them to a concert, such as the Great Bend Jazz Festival taking place this Saturday at the Crest Theater. The GBHS Jazz Band will perform at 7 p.m., and the 312th Army Jazz Band will take the stage at 7:30. It’s a free concert, by the way, courtesy of the Great Bend Jazz Festival, Barton County Arts Council, Great Bend Tribune and other underwriters.
“My fondest wish is for people to bring their children or grandchildren to a musical performance,” Feldt said. Musicians and their audiences connect during live performances in a way that simply cannot come through a television or computer screen. Many people who discover a passion for music do so at an early age, and such exposure can be the catalyst.
Professional baseball player Ralph Terry from Larned made a similar comment last month when he spoke to the Great Bend Kiwanis club about his book, “Right Down the Middle: The Ralph Terry Story.”
“I think it’s very important for young people to see major league ball games,” he said.
Terry was a pitcher for the New York Yankees in the 1960s, and later became a successful pro golfer.
His advice to young people is, “Play hard and have fun.” The next thing he tells them is, “Get a dream. And if that dream doesn’t pan out, get another one.”
Terry said people nowadays don’t seem to respond well to criticism. If a coach chews out an athlete, the player’s typical reaction is to sulk. It would be better, he suggested, to react to a coach’s dressing down by trying hard to get better. That’s the attitude of a champion like Terry, who pitched in two World Series.
On a personal note, sharp-eved readers spotted a typographical error at the end of my column about Kansas Day. I realize that the Civil War began in 1861, not 1981. Did someone flip my numbers upsidedown? Probably not. I’m not sure how that got into print, but I am trying hard to get better.
Also, a thank you to Dale Hogg for filling this space after a bout of Type A influenza put me out of commission for a spell.
Susan Thacker is the news editor at the Great Bend Tribune. Send email to email@example.com.