Publisher's Pick: With today's kids in charge, the future looks bright

John Marshall High School student Brie Lee thanks Lynn Clarey, representing the local chapter of Tee it Up for the Troops, for its donation of $15,000 to assist in the funding of a service dog for a returning veteran. Trevor Minnich holds the oversized presentation check.

Should anyone question whether the next generation will become a corps of caring and committed community volunteers, I have the answer: Just look at what is developing in our schools.

I am fortunate to be invited regularly into local and area schools. It does not escape my notice that walls are adorned with student-designed posters encouraging awareness, volunteerism and funding for projects that benefit needy individuals, families and the community at large.

Last Friday evening, I attended a competition of three original, one-act plays hosted at Lourdes High School, focusing on the social injustice of human sex and labor trafficking. Student-scripted, directed and performed, each of the three plays was compelling in the articulation of a serious societal ill. It's an initiative fostered by the sisters of Saint Francis, and students and faculty advisers at Lourdes, Century and John Marshall are to be commended for yet another community wake-up call about modern-day slavery.

Every week, in every school, it seems there is a relentless reaching out by youth into their own communities to evolve a society better than they have inherited.

An ambitious goal


Last Tuesday morning, I was invited to John Marshall High School to help present a check to students of the American Studies class on behalf of Tee It Up for the Troops. As a nonprofit charity, Tee it Up supports veterans from all branches of our nations' armed forces, as well as their families. The Post-Bulletin Co. has been an enduring major media sponsor of the organization's annual golf outing, where a significant amount of money is raised.

In a quick event squeezed between class rotation on the first day of the new semester, dozens of students, faculty and staff gathered in the main lobby at JM. Peering down from the second floor mezzanine were more students who could barely contain their anticipation for what was about to happen. Little did they know how well their anticipation would be gratified.

Here's the background: Last fall, American Studies students announced a schoolwide 2013 Spirit of Service project to raise an incredible amount — $25,000 — to purchase a service dog for a local veteran through the Warrior Canine Connection. They launched the campaign with a classroom-by-classroom solicitation from students and faculty, raising more than $3,100 in just one minute.

In the weeks that followed, funding from a variety of sources increased the total to more than $12,000 — a heckuva lot of dough, but not nearly enough to purchase a service dog.

Canine companions

Service guide dogs help veterans suffering from psychological injuries to reintegrate into civilian and family life, teaching them that the world is a safe place.

Veterans are taught training methods, such as to praise and provide treats for their dogs when they experience a startling event, such as hearing a car backfire. Rather than turning inward to focus on their own past trauma, veterans get outside of their own heads to focus upon their companion dogs and the mission to reintegrate into society.

Training of dogs and their warrior companions is a lengthy and costly process. JM students have committed to a challenging fundraising project. Fortunately, other organizations have stepped in to assist.


Representatives from the local chapter of the Disabled American Veterans and the Soldiers Field Veterans Memorial group were the first to present donations to the JM Spirit of Service project. As each check was presented, the fundraising thermometer was filled in, topping out at more than $17,000.

Then it was time for the Tee it Up for the Troops check presentation. A moment of stunned silence ended in whoops and cheers when it was revealed that a $15,000 donation would push fundraising over the top of the goal. Immediately, student leaders declared that the overage would be a good start on funding for a second canine companion.

I am sustained in hope for our society that resides in the current generation of students. Perhaps poet, author and activist Maya Angelou says it better than I:

"I think a number of the leaders are, whether you like it or not, in the hip-hop generation. And when they understand enough, they'll do wonders. I count on them."

Randy Chapman is publisher of the Post-Bulletin. He welcomes feedback to his column at

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