One thing that small towns do well is celebrate their young people.
At least two area civic clubs are doing good things to both celebrate and challenge our teenagers, and you may not have heard about it.
OK, one of the clubs you probably have heard about. Its the Optimist Club, and it has been celebrating and challenging high school seniors for decades. Rotary Club of the Jeffersons has just started a new Interact Club at Ashe County High School.
The Optimists spotlight on high school seniors is one of those perennial meetings that reporters go to. It happens every year about this time in the meeting room at Smoky Mountain Barbecue.
This year 19 seniors smiled and laughed and ate barbecue courtesy of the Optimists; then they had the opportunity to talk about themselves. The stories are diverse but replete with exploits of leadership in sports or ROTC or drama, 4-H and student government.
College is on the minds of all of them, community service appeared as a consistent attribute. Church seemed a common denominator.
Their ability to stand as individuals and talk confidently about themselves and their plans for their futures struck me as uncommon among high school students. They are comfortable with themselves and what they are doing, and those attributes will help them move on in life. The Optimists see the need for fostering these good qualities in students. Doing so shines a light on the personal attributes all young people need to strive for. That throws down a challenge for young and old.
The Rotary Club of the Jeffersons has recently thrown down a challenge to Ashe students who have grabbed on with gusto.
The challenge lies in creating an Interact Club, which is kind of Rotary Junior. It is for youth ages 12 to 18 and is part of Rotary International, the worlds first service club organization. Rotary of the Jeffersons does good things in the community. Adult Rotary members work hard on the annual Fiddlers Convention and last week spent an afternoon delivering 34 fruit baskets to residents of Hill View Family Care Home and Jefferson Care Center. Rotary has started a project, brokering Christmas wreaths and Christmas trees, in a cooperative arrangement with West End Wreaths and Hudler Tree Farm. The effort will raise money for local projects.
The Interact is taking on some of their own projects and assisting with the Jeffersons Rotary wreath sale, making the adults look a bit like slackers. The youth organization has sold 30 wreaths as of last week.
That is their second project. The first was to raise 600 pounds of pet food for needy animals. Instead they raised 2,600 pounds. The folks at West End Wreaths might want to prepare for an uptick in order through Rotary.
Showing the way and providing an opportunity for taking a little responsibility can go a long way.
Lonnie Adamson is Editor/General Manager of the Jefferson Post.