Tuesday, December 12, 2006

In Needham You Might Make it into Space... If You Survive Today's High School Blues

The local media is having a field day with cramming down our throats the that fact that engineer Sunita L. Williams of Needham, MA is on board the Space Shuttle Discovery, a key player in NASA's mission to rewire the space station for operation by a permanent fuel source (or something like that--I deal with Earthly transportation, for the time being anyway--check back with me in a few years). A graduate of Needham High School, her work on this mission is most certainly catapulting her, literally, into the at least the top ten, if not top five, of the school's distinguished alumni; and she hasn't exactly hidden her love of Needham and Needham High by having a miniature flag bearing the town seal of Needham specially sent to her just in time for liftoff so she could show it off during the mission. However, as this article in today's Boston Herald points out, perhaps we've come a long way since Ms. Williams graduated from high school: perhaps Needham's teens in today's more pampered, sugar-coated world where Grand Theft Auto ads on the side of trolleys and FCUK ads are linked to violent crime by today's youth, aren't ready for so much fame... even if it's as simple as letting the town know they made--or not--the honor roll.
For, as the Herald describes, apparently in Needham, printing a list of the high schoolers who made the honor roll for the term in the Needham Times has led in recent years to suicides and car crashes... and suicidal car crashes. Of course, by now, I think you can guess I'm mocking Needham's coddling of its high schoolers and the "anxiety" of having your name published or not in town newspeaper based on--get this--whether or not you actually put in due work and made the honor roll much to the same tune that I mocked Concord, NH for coddling its high schoolers from "dirty dancing." Oh, let me tell you, high school must be so much rougher these days where book reports that used to mean countless trips to the local library and countless hours spent flipping through various brands of encylopedias to get relevant content and endless waiting to find those volumes that everyone needed and therefore barely sat in the library long enough to be checked in and rechecked out by the first one to get his/her hands them unless you were smart enough to put a "hold" on them once they returned have been replaced by a few clicks, some minimal typing, and a few dollars from mommy and daddy to pay for the non-free encyclopedia volumes online. Today's youth don't event want to titrate this or Bunsen-burn that--instead they point and click away on virtual "chemistry" online.
I could go on and on--the point is suck it up and deal. With the proliferation of "My Student is on the Honor Roll at... "-type bumper stickers in America, an phenomenon I find equally as insane yet disturbing as the recent proliferation of radioactive "poison" oversees, guess what--this is the world we live in. Honor roll is just that--a recognition of honor of high achievement in grade school. For the longest time I didn't know that the Boston Globe, albiet buried somewhere in the midst of the paper, printed a list of honor roll students in the Boston Public Schools for the term; when my mom told me I had feelings of greatness at having my name published for something good; and when I didn't make the honor roll--oh, baby, let me tell you, instant nervous breakdown because *gasp* the whole city would know that I didn't make it that term (sarcasm). Granted, Needham is a much smaller, close-knit community where it would be much easier for any of the locals to deduce who didn't make the honor roll, but still--so what. Like MIT students and UMass Amherst Sylavan residents who commit suicide every year for everything from bad grades to failed relationships, at what point to do we realize--bluntly--that maybe not everybody is "cut out for it"--it being a normal life. I mean, seriously, what's next--dropping wedding and renewal-of-vows posts from *Local Newspaper USA* because they're a slight to all of us who are single, or even worse, unhappily married?! Heck, why don't we drop obituaries because people who thought "today was gonna be it" might be around tomorrow?! I think you get the point. -TM

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