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Violence & hope

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 
In the last week or so, there have been two stories in my state's major newspaper (The Minneapolis Star-Tribune) that seem to be connected in my mind.

The first is a tragedy - there was a school shooting last month in Cold Spring, MN that left one student, Aaron Rollins, dead and another severely injured. The second boy, Seth Bartell, died yesterday. The story is here.

The second is a story by columnist Doug Grow about a school in Bloomington, MN that elected a developmentally disabled boy as this year's homecoming king. The story is here.

I'm not naive; the world doesn't work in black and white. And I don't think there are any easy answers to the violence that seems to be increasing on all levels - home, school, workplace, random acts, terrorism, national. But maybe some of the kids in Bloomington have figured something out that so many of us can't.

That first story just made me sad. I think I'm looking for hope.
post #2 of 8
This is a good question, but unfortunately it's impossible to read the second link after reading the first - the paper wants everybody to register. Yes, there's always room for hope - it's not a good idea to see everything in black and white.
post #3 of 8
Thread Starter 
This is a good question, but unfortunately it's impossible to read the second link after reading the first - the paper wants everybody to register
Sorry, I didn't realize that. I'll paste it below...

This was a pretty rambling post without much of a topic - I was in a pretty melancholy mood that day...

Here is the second story...

Doug Grow: At Bloomington Jefferson, a special school gets a special homecoming king
Doug Grow, Star Tribune

Published October 4, 2003 GROW04

It was the grandest victory lap you could imagine.

Michael Young, the homecoming king at Bloomington Jefferson High School, was half walking, half running around the school gym. He was slapping hands with everyone he could reach. His grin was huge.

The king's robe was slipping. His crown was perched at odd angles. It didn't matter. He kept grinning and slapping hands and everyone in the gym was cheering, louder and louder and louder.

Michael Young, 18, is a senior -- and a very special homecoming king at what turns out to be a very special school.

In the language of our times, Michael is "developmentally delayed."

Michael has very limited skills when it comes to academic life. While others take math and literature, he takes courses in life skills.

But there's not a kid more involved in the pulse of the school than Michael. He seldom misses a sporting event. He's a student manager of the basketball team. He goes to sleep each night listening to a CD of the Jefferson High band. And he knows, by name, just about everyone in a school of more than 1,700 students.

He doesn't just know their names. He embraces this horde of friends. He walks the school's halls, spreading joy wherever he goes.

And Friday afternoon, Jefferson students said thanks to their special friend by voting him the homecoming king. He accepted the crown from a more traditional king, Tony Brinkhaus, who was a football hero at Jefferson last year and now is a scholarship player at the University of Minnesota.

"The story is the people at this school," said the king's mother. "They're so accepting."

It is hard to separate who is most special in the king's story.

For example, there's Drew Glowa. He's a senior, the class president and the captain of the hockey team.

It was Glowa who urged Michael to make a run for homecoming king, even though he, too, was among the candidates. Glowa not only went out and got the 75 names on a petition to see that Michael was a candidate, he also campaigned for Michael.

"He is the school spirit here," said Glowa, who is among the Jefferson students who accompany Michael to school activities.

Others are quick to say that it's Michael's parents and big sister, Laura, who are special here because they're so positive, so giving, so dogged in opening doors for Michael. They shrug off such praise.

"Our family is changed forever by Michael," said Michael's father, John. "He has brought us such closeness."

And there is Michael. He's a sports nut who somehow manages to absorb the sports section each morning before heading off to school. This understanding baffles his father.

"He may not be able to add two plus two but he can tell you the statistics of the Twins players," he said.

The king learns names of his fellow students by studying the yearbook. He heads to school each day with a smile on his face because he's going to be with a thousand friends.

Friday, his smile was bigger than ever. Recent graduates had come back to Jefferson just to see their pal, Michael, as a member of the homecoming court. Before the big ceremony, he was hugging everybody in sight and laughing.

When friends pinned on his boutonniere, he laughed and clapped his hands and said, "Look at me, I'm beautiful."

His parents believed it wouldn't matter to Michael if he were not elected king by his fellow students. In fact, on the way to school he told them he hadn't voted for himself. The parental concern before the program wasn't about winning and losing, it was that their son would stop to help direct the Jefferson band during the formal procession of king and queen candidates.

As it turned out, stopping for the band -- or anything else -- was not the problem.

During the procession, Michael was almost on the run, dragging the formally attired young woman he was to escort to the stage. The same thing happened when he and the queen, Nicole DeLaRosa, were introduced. They were supposed to stroll slowly down the middle of the gym. The king again took off like a shot, the queen hanging on gamely while trying not to trip over her gown.

Then came the wondrous victory lap. Kingly decorum was replaced by joy. The special king rambled around the gym, slapping hands. The crowd roared.

Doug Grow is at

post #4 of 8
That is just an awesome story!

Guess that just goes to show...maybe the next generation won't be so bad.
post #5 of 8
Wow, that is awesome. Brought a huge smile to my face!
post #6 of 8
COOL !!!
post #7 of 8
A few years ago I was teaching in a high school. The students elected a girl who was in a wheelchair as their prom queen. This girl had so many friends, and was very popular. She had the best attitude of anyone I have ever met. Kids do recognize the value of the inner person, even if they don't always show it.
post #8 of 8
As a former teacher I can tell you flat out, not all schools are equal. Schools where the student body are tuned in to drugs, alcohol and gangster rap are not going to exhibit the kind of caring it takes to elect a handicapped child to a popular position like Prom Queen. Empathy is a LEARNED characteristic. Children are not born with it. Children who do not learn empathy for others, animals, etc by the time they enter school may never learn it. It's a modeled behavior and without the right kind of role models at home, a child may have no chance to learn to care.
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