The Better Angels Of Our Nature


You`ve seen the videos and heard the awful tales:
High school football players beating or sexually
assaulting younger teammates. Cheerleaders pelting new
recruits with garbage and feces. Vulnerable students
across the country humiliated by their heartless peers.

The caught-on-tape sensationalism of the recent
hazing "epidemic" may make for titillating TV. But
American high schoolers are getting a bad rap. For every
teen-age act of barbarism broadcast over the past month
on network and cable news, I have spotted countless acts
of youthful compassion and humanity that get passed over
by ratings-driven producers.

In Houston, the students of Cy-Fair High School
appointed Shannon Jones their homecoming queen. Like
many crown-wearers, she is a popular athlete and
passionate football fan. The 19-year-old senior also
happens to have Down syndrome. Houston Chronicle
reporter Jeannie Kever

told the story
last week of how Lindsey`s sister,
also a Cy-Fair High School senior, rallied the student
body to elect Shannon queen. It had been Shannon`s
longtime dream. The victory, Kever wrote, was a
testament to Shannon`s "own personality, her sister`s
love and changing public attitudes" about students with
mental retardation. "[W]hen Shannon was crowned
homecoming queen on the 50-yard line at Pridgeon
Stadium,"
Kever reported, "the crowd roared in
approval and her parents blinked back tears."

In Tempe, Ariz., Poco Carton was elected homecoming
king last month "in a landslide vote," according
to the Arizona Republic`s David Cieslak. The
22-year-old special-needs student with Down Syndrome was
known for his enthusiastic participation in the school
choir and in dance classes. Cieslak wrote that Poco
captured the hearts of his fellow students "with his
positive attitude and unwavering kindness."

Classmates gave him a graduation send-off  "complete
with all the pomp and circumstance fit for royalty."

Reflecting on his school years and the future ahead,
Poco said: "I`m going to follow my dreams. I say
thank you to everybody. I`m just really happy."

In Albuquerque, N.M., the students of Eldorado High
School chose Tim Harris as this year`s homecoming king.
A popular student who has Down syndrome, Tim is "a
class favorite because of his easygoing personality,"

noted Albuquerque Tribune reporter Sue Vorenberg.
Tim`s mother, Jeannie Harris, said classmates have
staunchly supported him since grade school. "The school
needs to be very proud," she said. "The acceptance and
love these kids have for him, it`s amazing."

In Canby, Oregon, 18-year-old student Janelle Bailey,
who also has Down Syndrome, was chosen one of Canby High
School`s five senior homecoming princesses. The
Oregonian`s Tom Quinn reported last month that student
leaders led a word-of-mouth campaign to elect Janelle to
the court. "Classmates say her election as princess
recognizes Bailey`s many contributions to the high
school, notably her endlessly cheery attitude and
sociability," Quinn wrote. Luke Sommer, Canby`s student
body president lobbied for several years to get Bailey
chosen as a princess. "Every girl wants to be on the
court, and she`s deserving . . . genuine, nice, caring."
Claire Gaeng, head of Canby`s special needs program,
added: "Janelle is obviously a person with special
needs, but this senior class is just a wonderful group
of students. They are kind and considerate people who
have always been friendly to her."

In Kirkland, Wash., 19-year-old Matt Louden went to
the Juanita High School homecoming dance with not one
date-but with eight. He`s a jock who can bench-press 230
pounds, a lip-sync fanatic, and a special-needs student
with Down syndrome whose indefatigable optimism has
charmed students since grade school. Seattle Times
reporter Cara Solomon wrote that Matt`s mom tried to get
him to play in the backyard as a toddler, convinced it
would be safer. But "[h]e insisted on the front yard,
where the rest of the kids were playing. `And he`s been
trying to teach me that ever since. It`s like, `Mom,
life`s not in the back yard. Life`s in the front yard.`
"

The high school stories of Shannon, Poco, Tim,
Janelle, Matt, and their caring classmates offer
desperately needed uplift in a popular culture that
wallows in degradation as infotainment.  Wouldn`t it be
nice if once, just once, TV programmers focused on the
better angels of our nature instead of the bullies and
beasts?

Michelle Malkin [email
her] is author of

Invasion: How America Still Welcomes Terrorists,
Criminals, and Other Foreign Menaces to Our Shores
.
Click

here
for Peter Brimelow`s review. Click

here
for Michelle Malkin`s website.

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