Post Classifieds

Finding good news in a time of uncertainty

By Caitlin Vandewater Associate Campus Talk editor
On May 1, 2012

As part of my end of the week wind down, I spend a few pointless hours scouring Facebook, Twitter and the Huffington Post website, trying to catch up in the daily and weekly happenings of my social network and the world.
Usually the stories I uncover aren't as happy as I want them to be. It's cliché to say we live in tough times, but it's true. It's hard to find the happiness of our nation when we're still fighting two wars and have a less-than-stellar economy. As the presidential primaries wind down and the real race begins, our level of political unrest is bound to rise. With national attention on the Trayvon Martin murder and the 20th anniversary of the Rodney King Riots, it's apparent racial tension and issues are still prevalent, and not anywhere near being resolved.
Amidst all this political drama and attention to modern day racial profiling, I think we forget a lot of good still goes on in the world and around our country.
Take this for example: Thursday, April 26, The Post Star - a Glens Falls, N.Y.-based paper ­- wrote a story about Max Jackowski, a Lake George student with Down Syndrome who was crowned prom king. Albany news stations pounced on the story, and I have no doubt his coronation video will slowly go viral on YouTube. Eighty percent of Jackowski's classmates voted him as prom king, and out of the three newscasts I watched, all of his peers interviewed had only great things to say about him.
In one news segment, the report began with this statement: "Too often we report on the negative things young people do. Kids committing crimes, kids bullying other kids, kids putting themselves and others in danger."
As a lifelong resident of the Capital region, I can attest to this. It's not that good things don't happen in that part of the state, but the five o'clock newscasts tend to be kind of negative. They're bogged down with problems facing Albany and the state government, as well as the surrounding communities. Sure, there are news stories which focus on the good of the region, but like any area of the country or state, there's not always happy news to be told.
Because of the recent call to arms to battle bullying, my local news stations seem to constantly report on how high schools are combating an epidemic that has been around since the dawn of time. The classic jock/nerd, bully/victim scenario has been around in pop culture for so long, I'm sure nobody can pinpoint the original source. National attention to the psychological effects of bullying seem like a more recent development and social media can be thanked for that.
Teens are now more readily able and willing to broadcast their problems over the Internet, as opposed to diaries and journals our parents - and some of us - kept as children. There's no question we're calling more attention to how to resolve bullying in schools. That's because we have a greater level of awareness when it comes to sexual identities and stereotypes within our schools.
Things like this are happening all the time - it just doesn't reach the national level. Last year at my high school's prom, a similar thing happened. The juniors elected to give a mentally challenged boy a "Prince of the Prom" title. As far as I know, it was a unanimous decision, and the boy was honored at coronation with a custom-made crown and prom court sash.
I'm not trying to beef up my high school or make it seem like it's this little slice of heaven in eastern New York - it's far from it. But that doesn't mean we should brush aside acts of kindness that play out in the epitome of a high school popularity contest. The idea of prom is so serious for some individuals they spend hundreds of dollars just to ask their dates to prom. It's ridiculous, but in a time when Teen Mom and stories of bullying related suicides or suicide attempts dominate the airwaves, teenagers get a bad rap for not realizing how their decisions affect their futures. Stories like this should give us some hope for the people who will soon be filling our college classrooms.

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