Is it just me or are 8th graders getting smarter? They read more, they write deeper, and having sat through a plethora of ceremonies this past week including my youngest son’s, I can tell you they speak like they’ve been attending Toastmasters for years.
I live in a small town where I grew up (then left for 30 years, then came back 4 years ago) and many of these kids are somehow related to people I know. There are really no degrees of separation. This makes watching them grow that much more intriguing.
At my son’s graduation yesterday, and the awards assembly a few days before that, students got up to talk in front of a packed out auditorium. That, in itself, is enough to drive many adults running for the hills. But these students, who’d written their own very impressive speeches, spoke flawlessly. One girl even tripped on her way up the stage, gracefully pulled herself together, and gave a perfect speech. What an example!
Teachers read some of the students poems. They wrote of Paris, and of Audrey Hepburn, topics you don’t anticipate from kids growing up in an unincorporated cowboy town. It made me happy we’d moved back and decided to have our youngest go through this school system. I was blown away by the talent at such young ages. The insight. (Not to get all verklempt, but my baby has actually been published in a national poetry anthology since 6th grade thanks to his teacher who believed in his talent and submitted his poem several years back.)
Call it Indigo-Crystal influence, call it evolution–call it a generation looking to the next with Pollyanna glasses. Whatever label you want to throw, I’m inspired. I’m inspired by their sensitivity, wisdom, and insight. I’m inspired by their creativity, their bravery, and their naivete up against this all-knowing background. By their talent. By their ability to mix enthusiastic youth with the adult sensibilities they need to go through to make these life changes with grace.
It makes me realize my characters in my current YA are not rounded enough to reflect these young adults. I need to honor them more, because from where I observe, they truly are remarkable and they deserve it.