The kids are alright

Published 11:33 am Monday, March 14, 2022

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

By MICHELLE LOVE | Staff Writer

I, like many of you, have had a lot of concern for the world today’s teenagers are growing up in. I know myself well enough to say that high school me could absolutely not handle having the world at my fingertips through social media apps like Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, TikTok, etc. I would just go ahead and ground myself if I had all of those things at my disposal. Some of you may be thinking, “Michelle, we did have the world at our fingertips through the internet,” and to that I say nope, not the same thing at all.

Having everything your friends or frenemies or enemies are doing thrown into your face every second of every day is overwhelming as an adult. Imagine being 15 or 16 and seeing friends out without you or your crush on a date with a person who is not you. Your teen years are spent anxious and confused and trying to figure out who you are in this crazy world, let alone balancing school and a social life. I know it’s a lot for me to fathom at 31, and I’ve definitely worried about my friends’ children and my family members who are in that age bracket.

I’m here today to let you know that in the past couple of months, I’ve learned the kids are going to be alright. I’ve met some amazing teenagers from Shelby County that have shown how much they care about the world around them and they’re doing their best to prepare themselves for the world ahead. These kids not only want to make the world a better, brighter place, they’re excited to do it.

The students at Pelham High School spent most of January making handmade cards for every single person in their school with positive affirmations written on them as part of the #YouMatter movement. They have apparently done this every year since 2018, and they love being able to make their fellow classmates smile. The Teen Council of Helena spent their Saturday doing a similar project, creating Valentine’s for the senior citizen community and for those who may be isolated due to COVID-19.

I’ve interviewed two students in the past month that were accepted to Ivy League schools. They worked so hard through their high school career (in class and also in out-of-school jobs) to get to where they are now, and they have no intentions of looking back. Sharon Zou of Helena was accepted to Cornell University. I found her in our interview to be polite, funny and incredibly smart, three things that are not surprising given her college destination. I recently interviewed a student at Pelham High School named Nico Ramos who was accepted into Yale. He was personable, respectful and was described by his counselor as one of the most hardworking students she had ever encountered. Both students have strong aspirations to go forth and take life by the horns. Both said they were excited for their next chapter in life and getting to focus on school and finding out who they are away from home.

These are the kids who are going to make a difference. All of these teenagers are capable, self-assured and ready to see what the world has out there for them. They are accomplishing so much and are going to help so many people using whatever tools they’re given (social media included). I know there are still a lot of things that are unsure and scary out there today, but meeting these kids makes me feel like they’re going to make it and will even help make the world a better place in the process. They’re motivated to do better for themselves and want to use their accomplishments to help others. I don’t know if a good work ethic or kindness are taught or if they’re thrust upon you like greatness supposedly is, but I do know the kids of Shelby County are going to do great things.