Local grads explode negative stereotypes

It's hard to avoid the drumbeat of statistics about today's teenagers — we read regularly about the rising rate of childhood obesity, the decline in language skills attributed to video games and text messaging, the conclusion by some observers that this generation is over-indulged, overscheduled, raised with a sense of entitlement and an attitude that the rules don't apply to them. Don't believe it for a minute.

To explode that stereotype of today's generation of young people, look no further than "Grads Against the Odds," a three-part series in Sunday, Monday and Tuesday's newspaper. In each story, Mail Tribune education reporter Paris Achen profiled a soon-to-graduate senior who has overcome tremendous obstacles to finish high school and head off to college, a bright future ahead.

If these outstanding young people don't restore your faith in the leaders of tomorrow, nothing will.

Take Ashton Kayser, who not only rebounded from her mother's death of a drug overdose three years ago, but who finished high school in just three years and plans a career helping others to avoid her mother's fate.

Or Lily Mejia, who entered seventh grade speaking only Spanish and will graduate in the top 5 percent of her class with a straight-A average and plans to become a civil engineer.

Or Adam Bradfield, who faced cancer three times and won, picking up an interest in agriculture along the way.

All three of these young people faced hurdles most of us can only imagine. And each of them rose to the challenge, overcoming the adversity they faced and not only surviving but emerging stronger and eager to take on the next challenge.

Ashton, Lily and Adam are only three examples of outstanding local students preparing to enter adulthood with bright futures ahead of them. There are many others.

Want more? Turn to the list in Sunday's paper of local valedictorians graduating at the top of their classes.

These 56 graduates boast impressive lists of accomplishments, and plan to fan out across the country in pursuit of a college degree, from Montreal to San Diego, Atlanta to Portland and throughout Oregon. Their career plans, for those who have made them, range from law to education, marine biology to business administration.

The Rogue Valley should be rightfully proud, as we are, of these fine examples of the next generation of American adults. We wish them continued success and a lifetime of achievement.

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