Thinking about young people, it’s hard not to conclude that they’re materialistic, in love with luxury, have atrocious manners, no respect for others and are obsessed with chatter via texting.
The mini-rant above, with a touch of modernizing, was an opinion Socrates had about 2,500 years ago.
He was a wise and tolerant fellow, but maybe he’d had one jar of wine too many and some teenager with a bad case of snark laughed at the cut of his toga.
The point is that older generations have always shaken their heads with disappointment over those damned kids. Part of the reason is that the oldsters have been blinded by style and haven’t looked deeper at youngsters who are trying to make their way in the world.
An example of Shelter Island’s refuting the idea that its youth are pushing the handcart to hell was recently demonstrated on the athletic field and on the school grounds. Kal Lewis, rapidly becoming one of the greatest Shelter Island athletes in school history, won a state title in cross country with great grace, attributing his victories this season to his coach and a teammate who inspired him.
Lindsey Gallagher, another exceptional cross country runner who breaks school records seemingly every time out, was named All-State for her talent and perseverance.
But perhaps her greatest accomplishment was being granted the sportsmanship award for her division within the county. When a fellow runner fell and couldn’t finish, Lindsey immediately made sure after winning her race that the fallen runner was O.K. Lindsey then gave her county championship plaque to her fellow athlete.
And last week, members of the National Honor Society held a “Cardboard Campout,” staying outside on the school grounds from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. The idea was to have some fun sleeping outside on a bitter November night — ah, youth — but also to raise money for Habitat for Humanity, a nonprofit that builds and/or restores houses for those in need.
We should also mention Coaches Bryan Gallagher and Toby Green who have led their charges and inspired them to compete and honor their sport by honoring everyone who participates in it. And Janine Mahoney, the Honor Society’s adviser, for impressing on the students the need for community involvement.
Socrates, a teacher himself, invented a method of questioning students, rather than brow beating them with accepted wisdom. He understood young people — beyond their flaws — and taught that to move the world, first move yourself, an idea that seems alive at Shelter Island school.