College acceptance letters arriving soon

By CARA SPEEGLE / Guest Columnist

Congratulations! We are pleased to inform you that you have been accepted into (insert university name here).

Ask any member of the Class of 2011 what acceptance is, and their first answer will undoubtedly include some collegiate lingo. The future of a high school senior rests on application statuses and acceptance letters. But how do other sources define acceptance?

Recently, my attention was directed to the issues facing today’s middle schoolers. Through the Pelham High School Peer Helpers, I was given the opportunity to be involved with the non-profit organization Camp Fire USA. The organization’s claim to fame is this: “Camp Fire’s programs are designed and implemented to reduce sex-role, racial and cultural stereotypes and to foster positive intercultural relationships. Camp Fire USA’s mission is to build caring, confident youth and future leaders.” Through their program Outside In, high school students teach middle school students the importance of breaking down walls of prejudice, judgment, bullying, stereotypes, cliques and ultimately the importance of accepting others.

I was reminded of the many heartaches of middle school, when a pair of jeans defines you, and people are labeled and sorted into categories. Looking back, I now understand that in all actuality, you can’t sort people like mail in the post office, and, just like books, you can’t judge your peers by their “covers.” Organizations like Peer Helpers and Camp Fire USA are working toward a more ideal learning environment, where middle school can be about peace and projects, as opposed to judging and drama.

So rest easy, all you middle schoolers, because there will be a day when the label of your clothing won’t label your character, and an acceptance letter will take precedence over being “popular.” Something changes from eighth grade to 18. The difference is, we’ve accepted ourselves, our flawed, quirky selves, which allows us to better see the beauty in others.

Cara Speegle is a senior at Pelham High School.