This morning I went to the breakfast meeting of the Rotary Club of Upcountry Maui, to see two high schoolers receive the club's Students of the Month awards. They were an impressive pair, and I will relay a little about them in a moment, but what I found noteworthy was the variety (and, apparently, also depth) of the opportunities students have today.
There was nothing close to it when I was in high school, 50 years ago.
Of course, not all students get the same opportunities. Money and transportation would prevent some. Babysitting obligations would stop others.
But the opportunities are there for both private and public school students.
It is nearly impossible, in some circles, to bring up the topic of education without being subjected to a tirade against public schools. And teachers. And unions.
I spent a lot of time on campus when my children were in high school, and what I saw was generally good. Certainly far better than the Catholic school I went to. I do not believe that anyone pushing vouchers has the interests of the students uppermost. And religious schools are, with some but not many exceptions, antieducational.
The selectees were Jamie Gomes from King Kekaulike High and Josh Higa from Kamehameha Schools Maui. As you can see from the photograph, happy-looking kids.
Jamie said she had been thinking of becoming a family physician until attending a boot camp at Berkeley last summer where she observed a knee operation and is now wondering if becoming an orthopedic surgeon wouldn't be better.
She plays water polo and for her community service requirement has started Operation JAG (Jamie Against Bullying) to go to the community with a message. She would like to attend Oregon State and then Oregon University of Health Sciences medical school.
Josh wants to become a botanist, with an interest in native plants. He's been learning about the Hawaiian uses of plants as medicine -- la'au lapaau. He does judo and runs cross-country and is studying Japanese in school. He has been on reef and park cleaning trips.
He has Northern Arizona and Pacific on his college list.
There were quite a few other items on Jamie's and Josh's busy lists, and I asked Josh's mother Terilyn if she worries about burnout. "Yes," she said.
But I think the kids will be all right.