Let’s err on the side of supporting youth

By: 
DAVID KEYES
Outlook Publisher

There is way too much talk that kids today are spoiled.
Participant ribbons seem to be the symbol folks seize on as an example that our future taxpayers can’t handle life in the real world later on.
If kids show up to school it seems they get a ribbon, some say.
I have a new appreciation for the role of participant ribbons and this community make in the lives of our youth after witnessing the third and fourth graders track meet and the state track meet last week in Laurel.
It was blustery last Thursday morning as the annual third and fourth-grade track meet started at the high school. In fact, I did everything I could at the office to postpone getting out there.
From the back of the Outlook office I could hear teacher Steve Ahman’s voice from four blocks away chatting up the fun all of the kids were about to have and at the same time shepherding youngsters to the starting line.
No fewer than 10 people came out of their way to let me know how much of his heart Mr. Ahman puts into this annual event. They chatted up his stamina, dedication and organizational skills.
About a quarter of the capacity of the stands was filled with hearty parents and grandparents and the students competed. The cheered and shouted out encouragement as the students tried their best in numerous track and field events.
While the wind and cold might have threatened to zap some of the enthusiasm of the day, it wasn’t evident from the children, parents or teachers.
The only time I witnessed broken spirit was the few times third and fourth graders would think they had crossed the finish line after one lap only to discover there was one more lap to go in the 800 meter race.
One more lap is a lot of steps for a tired third grader.
The theme of the day was a hearty “Good Job!” Every participant received that praise whether they were in first or last place.
As soon as each competition was over, parent volunteers and teachers sorted out who had won and took their time or distance and then made sure everyone else received a ribbon and a good job.
Whether it was fourth grader Cameron Hackman winning the 800 or Khlloe Shorey winning the 100-meter dash, it was easy to see how this community was raising up these children to remind them that we have their collective backs.
A comparison was easy for me to make on Friday, when the Class A and C state competitors hit the track.
Buses were lined up around the track and the high school. Many of the buses were adourned with Off to State signs in the windows and community pride was evident.
I could easily see Laurel’s former third and fourth graders lining up at the starting line. There was Taylor Ludwig winning the state 100 meters race, just like she did when she was in elementary school.
The local crowd shouted “Go Laurel” whenever a white Locomotive jersey was in any race. Those were the same voices that shouted “Go Laurel” for the third and fourth graders just days earlier on the same track.
I knew the circle of appreciation was complete when the timers at the end of the 100-meter dash not only said good job to the runners but actually hugged a few of them.
While no participation ribbons were awarded at the state meet, the accolades really went back to the parents, teachers, fans and communities that worked together to allow these young men and women to compete in a sport they love and to represent their school and hometown the best they could.
For many, the third and fourth grade track meet was their first organized track competition and for many, districts or the state track championships will be their last.
If a participation ribbon reminds youngsters of a blustery Thursday morning in Laurel where they tried their hardest and witnessed school and town pride, that is a good thing.
Perhaps when the game of life offers up forks in the road later on, the hours Mr. Ahman and crew put in and the memories of dancing teachers at the finish line and being singled out for a pat on the back, might keep them on the right path.
I think most of us would rather be accused of spoiling children with attention than ignoring them.

David Keyes is publisher of the Laurel Outlook.

Upcoming Events

Wednesday, March 20, 2019
10 a.m., Laurel Public Library, 720 West Third Street, Laurel, 628-4961
Wednesday, March 20, 2019
Every Wednesday at 5:30 p.m., check www.laurelexchangeclub.org for more info. Find them on Facebook www.facebook.com/laurelexchangeclub . Email them to find out meeting time and to join: clubinfo@laurelexchangeclub.org The club will have a meeting or volunteer activity. Meeting location is Sid's East Side Bar & Grill on first and third Wednesdays of each month. Members and guests eat free.  Volunteer activity on the second Wednesday of each month. Check their facebook page for updates.  Every fourth Wednesday is for a club social activity. 
Tuesday, March 26, 2019
Tuesdays, Noon, Beartooth Grill, 305 1st Ave. S.
Tuesday, March 26, 2019
Fourth Tuesdays, 7 p.m., Eagles Hall, 313 W. Main, 628-4503
Wednesday, March 27, 2019
10 a.m., Laurel Public Library, 720 West Third Street, Laurel, 628-4961
Wednesday, March 27, 2019
Every Wednesday at 5:30 p.m., check www.laurelexchangeclub.org for more info. Find them on Facebook www.facebook.com/laurelexchangeclub . Email them to find out meeting time and to join: clubinfo@laurelexchangeclub.org The club will have a meeting or volunteer activity. Meeting location is Sid's East Side Bar & Grill on first and third Wednesdays of each month. Members and guests eat free.  Volunteer activity on the second Wednesday of each month. Check their facebook page for updates.  Every fourth Wednesday is for a club social activity. 

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