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South Williamsport, PA
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Youth of Today

It was the end of the workday and I was rushing around to get up to Jersey Shore for a middle school hoops game. Pick up Michelle; hit the MAC machine for a quick sixty, so she doesn’t have to buy her own ticket. Ahead of schedule, we ran through the drive-thru at Burger King

It was the end of the workday and I was rushing around to get up to Jersey Shore for a middle school hoops game. Pick up Michelle; hit the MAC machine for a quick sixty, so she doesn’t have to buy her own ticket. Ahead of schedule, we ran through the drive-thru at Burger King on Maynard St., thought we’d split a chicken sandwich and fries. Of course as I was leaving the BK parking lot a large glob of mayo ended up on my sweater. No napkins in the bag – no problem, a quick stop at Sheetz – run in and no one will ever know. After cleaning up, a pleasant young man, a Penn College student I believe, came up to me and said, “Sir, I believe you dropped this.” It was the fifty-something dollars left from my quick sixty. I looked down at the money and said thank you and as I looked up he was gone like a ghost.

I have a tendency to lose things. Keys, wallet, cell phone – I usually blame it on Buddy at home and Steph at work. I just don’t understand why they move my stuff. This is why I don’t like carrying cash. If my kids don’t hit me up for it, I just misplace it. Thank you to this nice young man for bailing me out.

This random act of kindness got me thinking about our young folks of today and how often you hear negative things about them. They are always on their phones: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or whatever the next new app is. They need to get out and do more outside activities. Kids today are lazy and full of themselves.

I have a little different perspective. I am glad I grew up when I did. The youth of today are faced with so many more things to deal with on a daily basis than could have ever been imagined.

I’ll begin with school work. Recently I spent some time with Mrs. Diane Stanzione – she was Miss Daneker when I attended Loyalsock High School. Her first year as guidance counselor was my senior year. As fate would have it, she is now my son Jimmy’s Guidance Counselor. Interestingly enough, my head football coach Ken Robbins took care of my guidance needs before Miss Daneker arrived. I could tell some stories about Mr. Robbins and his guidance, but that’s for another day. Just let me say it was a lot of fun and he guided me in much more than just school.

The academic challenges and requirements of today, far exceed what was expected of us back then. I am amazed by what young people are learning and the programs available outside the school walls. The time they put in to do well, so far surpasses the time students were putting in years gone by. I don’t think there would be nearly enough tutor hours available to get me through the math courses today. Man, did I hate Algebra, Trig – well pretty much all math. There are also much tougher standards that students are held to in order to participate in athletic and extracurricular activities. Most seem to balance the classroom and whatever season it is very well. The pressure to achieve in the classroom, but also to excel at something else is tremendous. Educators today do a fantastic job helping our youth. I see it firsthand. Coaches and Athletic Directors truly care and put the classroom first. They realize all that is asked of young men and women today.

There is much more expected of you if you are participating in athletics. You used to go season to season and put the ball, bat or sneakers away and move on to the next sport. Not true today. If you are not in the weight room, doing some sort of speed and agility work and practicing your sport or sports, you are falling behind. All school coaches have ‘non-mandatory programs’ you are expected to attend if you are not playing another sport. Summers are a free-for-all – every coach has a program and expects you there. In my day a little summer basketball league and a few passing scrimmages and we were good to go. Not today. Boys and girls juggle multiple sports in the summer. Some school coaches work together, some don’t. For example, it’s a midsummer day – how about a football workout in the morning, followed by some time in the batting cage and a summer league game or hoops workout in the evening. Throw in a little speed and agility, go to sleep and do it all over again. Kyle Datres’s feat of being a three-sport, all state athlete is truly remarkable, especially in today’s world.

We covered school and extracurriculars, how about the social aspect of growing up? At a much younger age all young people are being exposed to alcohol, drugs, sex, you name it. Not a couple of beers and maybe a little pot. There are serious drugs like heroin. Beer has been replaced with vodka. Do you really think Swedish Fish, Cupcake and Cherry Cola flavored vodka are meant to appeal to just those over 21? That’s just three flavors – there are more than I can name! Peer pressure is at an all-time high and most make the right choice. Schools have answered the bell, providing many educational programs that begin in the elementary schools. Cross-age teaching is an excellent program that has high school students teaching elementary students about drugs, alcohol and tobacco. Parents take note – if you are not talking to your kids, someone else is. The sex thing I am going to let alone other than to say that no matter what you look at or watch on TV, the standard of what’s being shown is at an all-time low. Kids see more and know more by the sixth grade than we probably even know. Again, the schools are educating, but you better start early at home and don’t think it’s a one time talk about the birds and the bees.

Now on to technology of today. Please don’t take this personally, but the biggest abusers of cellphones, are the over 30 crowd. Whether it’s making a waitress wait to take their order while they are on their phone, or not being able to get their nose out of their smartphone while their child is trying to tell them something. I see it everyday. Some folks just seem to have a full blown addiction to their electronic device.

Anything in excess is not good, and many who are younger do abuse their cell phones, video games, etc., but who allows this? You’re the parent, set a good example and guidelines. I’m glad our young people are taught and embrace technology – that is the future. iPads are a tremendous learning and organizational tool and in life have replaced the day planner and desktop computer of yesteryear. What’s next?

How many folks make a living sitting in front of a computer or in a related field? It is the world today.

The last thing is young people being lazy and self-centered. Technology has made for a more sedentary lifestyle and that includes the younger crowd of today. I myself need to get more exercise and find more active things to do with my kids. We as parents and guardians need to make sure kids are moving and playing – not just sitting. This is not a youth problem, it is an American problem. Don’t single out the young ones. Take a look at our society as a whole.

As far as being self-centered, this too is a problem in our country, not just with the next generation. However, I see young people helping in our area with so many causes I couldn’t list them all. They are spending their time on missionary trips, working with those younger than them – whether as a tutor or as a ‘young coach’ helping the next class of ball players behind them in school. Young people are involved in so much more in our communities today, take a look around you. When do they find the time to do this?

How would you do growing up today, with all the challenges it has in store? College grad young adults, down to pre-k children have certainly embraced today’s world. They seem to work harder and smarter to meet the challenges. I believe they will evolve both in mind and in technology to take on the tough challenges our great nation has in years to come. I hope are national leaders of today leave them something to work with. Oh, by the way, wasn’t that President Obama caught taking a ‘selfie’ with the Prime Minister of New Zealand at the memorial service for Nelson Mandela? So much for younger people being the problem.

Welcome

Margarita Shkurko has been in our country for 2 1/2 years. She came to us from Russia via Loyalsock High School. Please take the time to enjoy her first published story. Rita is a smiling, energetic, smart, young lady. I am honored to have her on board.

Jim Webb
Jim Webb
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