They Give Me Hope!

On April 3 & 4, the Petal Chamber and the Petal Education Foundation hosted interviews for the Petal High School Ambassadors. The organization is open to PHS juniors and seniors wishing to learn more about leadership, community service, and job etiquette. The criteria to become an ambassador are rigorous and involve much student effort. The final step in the process is a personal interview. And that, my friends, is where the magic happens yearly for those adults involved.

Without fail, I leave the school marveling at the intelligence and maturity of these students. They are full of hope and enthusiasm for their future, and the contributions each will make to our world.
They plan on becoming NICU nurses, lawyers, engineers, astrophysicists, veterinarians, military officers, and more. They will succeed.

Here are a few thoughts I came away with, not in any particular order.

1. These students LOVE their school, teachers, and administrators. They recognize the valuable education they receive and willingly adhere to the tradition of excellence in Petal schools. They accept the burden of high achievement to continue the tradition. They spoke about how much they feel their teachers care about them as individuals.
2. Social media has had a profound effect on the daily lives of teenagers. Being constantly plugged in introduces unrelenting pressure on students to maintain their online presence around the clock. The students recognize the problem but have no solutions. They are tech-tethered free spirits who have never known the world without the internet and have endured schooling in the age of COVID. They’re also robust, resilient, and ready to take on the planet.
3. They love Petal, Mississippi, and the United States. Nine out of ten said they plan to remain close to home after graduation.
4. Though most were intimidated by the interviews, their sense of humor and wit came through loud and clear.
5. They care about others and desire to help. These students are willing to get their hands dirty and do their share of the work.

Throughout the year, I will have the opportunity to get to know these high schoolers. I will teach, mentor, and direct them. But I am the one that will learn the most. I am the one that will feel confident that they can clean up the mess the adults have left for them.