We can all be proud of these young people

IT SEEMS SOMETIMES THAT, since the beginning of time, older generations have complained about and disparaged younger generations.

Young people have always seemed lazier, less caring, less involved and more unfeeling than their elders – at least according to some of those elders.

But young people here in Plymouth have put the lie to that characterization more than just once in the past few months.

First, students at Plymouth High School responded to a call from teacher Janet DeJean Newton for supplies for the Livingston Parish School District in her native Louisiana after that area was devastated by flooding in August.

Their response left their teacher with just one word to say - “Wow!”

The students, reaching out to the community as well, collected two tractor-trailers full of school and educational materials to ship to the flood-ravaged school district. Johnsonville and Sargento each donated a truck and driver to haul the supplies to the Louisiana district, which saw 15 of its 40 schools damaged by the flooding.

When the supplies arrived in Livingston Parish, the response was immediate. Principal John Foster wrote to Newton, “I am forever changed by the outpouring of good will that has come our way. I know that good people outnumber the bad thousands to one.”

Meanwhile students, faculty and staff at Riverview Middle School were missing one of their own, fifth-grade teacher and coach Jeff Petrie. Petrie had been absent from school for more than a year while battling lymphoma, but students still kept him in their hearts and minds.

They staged numerous fundraisers during his absence to help Petrie and his family with medical expenses.

Then last Friday, they came up with a gesture that proved their heart and compassion.

The entire school – students, teachers and staff

– rode Johnson Co. school buses to Petrie’s home

– with the cost of the transportation donated by the bus company.

There, they staged their own Homecoming parade for their beloved teacher, knowing that he would not be able to attend the parade later that afternoon downtown.

The school marching band played, students carried signs and wore t-shirts of encouragement and support for Petrie, and shared hugs and words of support with their teacher.

Unfortunately, Petrie passed away the next day, but the gesture by the Riverview community – which was a complete surprise to him – certainly gave him the warmest memory to end his days on this earth and carry with him on his next journey.

Both the PHS efforts for Louisiana and Riverview’s kind gesture for their teacher earned the students – and the community – coverage from television stations in Milwaukee and Green Bay. Good news about our community and our young people is always a welcome and deserved thing.

There are, of course, many other examples – large and small – of the good things our young people are doing, not only in Plymouth but throughout the county, the state and the nation.

Young people can be frustrating and disappointing often, but more often they do things like these to remind us that they are, in the end, the product of their community and like the generations that came before them, they will come out strong and caring like the place and the people they come from.

As Pete Townshend of The Who wrote more than 50 years ago, “The Kids are Alright.”


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