Our Greatest Natural Resource is Our Kids

by DAN ZANG
Principal, Rockford High School

“Kids these days…” This statement tends to be tossed around from time to time to describe our youth; I imagine out of frustration more times than not—perhaps a statement we run to when we don’t quite understand what our young people are thinking. I assure you, in my role, I am amazed daily by “kids these days.” As the storms of economic gloom hover over us, I am excited for the future! Our greatest natural resource, our children, are ready to set out and make a difference in this world.

Walking the halls of Rockford High School I encounter students who:

  • organize blood drives for the American Red Cross;
  • take an active role in protecting nature and cleaning the White Pine Trail;
  • provide peer tutoring to their classmates after school;
  • sponsor food drives throughout the year to assist the North Kent Service Center;
  • raise funds for the Muscular Dystrophy Association;
  • participate in the Relay for Life fundraiser in Rockford;
  • are working after school to assist their families, who are struggling in these difficult financial times;
  • have helped provide assistance to community members with vehicles stuck in the snow;
  • take the time to venture into downtown Grand Rapids to help feed the homeless;
  • have provided warm clothes and other winter essentials to several inner-city schools;
  • adopted several Rockford area families and made the holiday season very special for families who were unable to otherwise have gifts and essentials for the season;
  • are active in church youth groups, providing for the greater good in our community, our state, our nation, and the world;
  • are polite and willing to assist their classmates and their community.

Do we have students who find trouble from time to time? Sure we do. With the help of parents, family members, teachers, counselors, church members, and other resources, we can generally provide students with the assistance they need. Sometimes the “school of hard knocks” will deliver the lesson that ultimately gets them on track.

I could go on and on with numerous other examples. They may dress differently than we did at their age, their vocabulary is different, and they have technical skills we were never exposed to, but they do have one thing in common with other generations: they are ready to launch themselves into this world with a purpose yet to be defined. I assure if you truly try to listen to them and their aspirations for themselves and this world, you will feel the satisfaction I feel every day.

We are blessed with great “kids” in our community and schools. “Kids these days…” they will go on and do exceptional things!

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