Fayette County News

Fayette County


Our Best Hope

Lynn Horton is a freelance writer and editor who in another lifetime taught English and Creative Writing at McIntosh High School and later worked in the Starr’s Mill High School Media Center.
Lynn Horton is a freelance writer and editor who in another lifetime taught English and Creative Writing at McIntosh High School and later worked in the Starr’s Mill High School Media Center.

Can we talk? I mean can we talk about something that isn’t going to cause me to lose friends and create enemies. Let’s just visit for a few minutes. First, I’ll tell you about my granddaughter’s delightful performance as a “Jitterbug” in “The Wizard of Oz” production this month. And then you can share what’s been happening in your family.
Starting Thursday night and finishing in a matinee Sunday, Nov. 13, a cast and crew of about thirty young people, few older than fourteen, performed in a three hour production by The Georgia Singers whose costumes, choreography and musicality were deserving of Tony nominations! But, of course, that is a grandmother’s opinion. They practiced night after night for months, often until nine o’clock, showing such stamina and dedication. Well done!
Another opinion, mine also, is that the Starr’s Mill High School Band’s three levels, Concert, Symphony and Wood Wind, all performed beautifully just a few days before Bill and I were treated to The Oz spectacular. My grandson, a senior, will be leaving the Willie Dukes stage soon to our distress. While we are proud to see him move on to college, we will sorely miss the amazing performances he and the band has thrilled us with these last four years (free to the public, I would like to add). As the sole bass guitarist for the award-winning Swinging Starrs Jazz Band, he has turned in some standout performances. I don’t know why the place isn’t packed!
I am not only proud of my beautiful grandchildren, but I applaud all those young people in the schools throughout our community, our state, and our country who use their time and their considerable energy to provide wholesome entertainment with very little reward. The sparse crowds that barely fill half an auditorium are made up of parents, siblings, and grandparents. Where is the community? Very few teachers or administrators are even in the audiences.
Sure, I get it. I was once one of those exhausted teachers who certainly didn’t want to go back to school for another two hours just to hear a group of students toot their horns or bang their drums, and everybody has seen The Wiz a dozen times. They may come out to the football game on Friday night, and they might even cheer the band at halftime—unless they need to run to the restroom or go get a coke before the next half begins.
And unfortunately, the football players, who are encouraged by the pep band and their lively chants from the stands, hustle off to the locker room and never see a performance, not even at Homecoming when the band performs their dynamite show AFTER the game, a show that they have been practicing since July in the blistering heat! Nope. The football players are allowed to leave the field as the band enters the field, and half the stands empty out, leaving, guess who? to clap for the exceptional kids who are out on that field four afternoons a week and some Saturdays so they can add an important component to Friday Night Lights! The “guess who” are, of course, only proud parents and grandparents who have sat through hours of watching other kids in pads give one another concussions.
I like football, and I understand that those players put a great deal of blood, sweat, and tears into their performances. But when the season is over, the band plays on! And continues to practice after school, and get up at dawn on Saturdays to ride a bus half the day so they can compete in state-wide competitions. And drag in sometimes at two or three in the morning. They face the same homework and deadlines that the rest of the student body does.
I don’t know how they do it. My grandson carries three or four AP classes. I couldn’t pass Algebra II while my extracurricular activities consisted of Yearbook a couple of days a week and practicing for a small part in the Spring play.
Now, it’s your chance to talk. I bet you can tell me about your kids who get up at 5 a.m. so they can make Swim practice before school, or who work hundreds of hours on an Eagle Scout project while tutoring some kid who is struggling in Algebra II. Or maybe you want to tell me about your grandchild who works 20 hours a week after school washing dishes and is saving his money to pay for college. Some are just struggling to keep their grades up so they can qualify for the Hope Scholarship. Great!! I hear you. I know they are out there, and I know that these are the same young men and women who I see signing up for mission work in their own communities and abroad and who will take this, their dedication and perseverance into the world of business, education, criminal justice, medicine, and, yes, politics. These are the Post 9-11 generation, who unlike the millennials, don’t believe they deserve a hand up and hand out without the hard work that accompanies success. I pray that these beautiful, smart, funny, and kind youngsters will strive to reclaim a nation that we can be proud of, that we don’t have to make excuses for. I’m counting on you Carter, Erin, Ryan, Andrea, Victoria . . . . Our Best and Brightest Hope.