On a daily basis we seem to be barraged by story after story of what we can’t get accomplished or what is wrong within our nation and the world. Reports of violence, corruption and disappointment seem to sell better as the news of the day. Don’t get me wrong, not all is perfect, but much of that can be still put right.
Because others seem to fill our ears and eyes with negativity, I thought it might be better to concentrate this week on some exceptional events from throughout our great country and right here at home.
Depending where you live around the nation an extraordinary occurrence has been happening right under our noses locally and across America. The hope for our future has been blossoming across the land, just as the flowers begin to bring another season of beauty to our landscapes here on the island and throughout the nation.
It’s so enjoyable to see the pictures of children moving on from pre-school into kindergarten with wonderful smiles of pride and anticipation. Others will graduate from kindergarten and move into grade school, while grade schoolers prepare to enter middle school and all those challenges ahead of them. The pictures of that innocence and wonderment are so special.
We didn’t have a middle school experience in the ‘60s in my small hometown. We would move from the 8th grade right into high school and the next four years of our life, which some of us wonder how we ever survived.
I’m amazed, as I thumb through pages after pages of photos of local children, whose parents I’ve known since moving here fulltime almost 30 years, how time has flown. Some of those parents were young themselves when I first met them, and now they are watching as their children graduate and move on.
I also think back to watching some of those youngsters who graduated a few years ago and went off to further their education and have returned here to teach our next generation of students, and help them to find themselves during their challenging years of adolescence.
I also think of the young men and women that have chosen service to their nation. Individuals such as Staff Sergeant Cory Vosburgh who serves in the U.S. Air Force and was injured in Germany during a freak accident while on deployment over a month ago and the wonderful response of the community to aid him and his family during their time of need. His parents, Teresa and Tony Dorris, friends and neighbors have seen him grow into the man he is today.
The pride I have for Captain Jordan Sorrenti, a proud graduate of Lely High School and the United States Military Academy at West Point. Sorrenti now commands the Carlisle Barracks Headquarters Detachment at the U.S. Army War College, after having served a tour of duty in Germany and in war torn Afghanistan, protecting our freedoms. His mother, Paula Sorrenti is another proud parent of a graduate from the Marco and Collier County School System.
I think of the wonderful things that are happening right here on our island in regards to the education of our children. The many preschool opportunities, the great work being done at the Island Montessori School headed by Lisa Nguyen and her talented staff as they provide a wonderful experience for our children.
The award-winning efforts of the Tommie Barfield Elementary School, which has provided the foundation of learning for so many our youth, before they move onto one of the finest middle schools to be found in the State of Florida – the Marco Island Charter Middle School, under the watchful guidance of longtime Principal George Abounader. That facility today can accommodate up to 400 students and will in 2018 celebrate its 20th anniversary since founding.
As they enter their last years in secondary school, our young men and women have a number of choices, all of which provide excellent opportunities. Here on the island they may choose to take advantage of one of the top-rated high schools in Florida, as they can choose to enter the Marco Island Academy. That opportunity came about through the dreams of many who wanted to have their children continue their education locally rather than travel off the island. This successful effort was due in part through the hard work of its founder Jane Watt, along with her team of dedicated parents and educators, and the dedication of their Principal Melissa Scott and her team of faculty members.
Lely High School has continued to provide many within the Marco community and Collier County with a wonderful opportunity to excel in their studies and participate in a wide range of activities as they look forward to their future endeavors. Many have graduated and been appointed to the prestigious military academies and to top-ranked Ivy League and major colleges.
Seacrest Country Day School, Saint John Neumann and the Community School in Naples also provide wonderful prospects to all within Collier County, as we seek to deliver a wide range of educational opportunities to our youth.
Whether our children choose to move onto higher educational pursuits, seek a trade or avail themselves of other opportunities that await them, the future is theirs for the taking.
To see pictures of this next generation going off to their proms or carefully dressing in graduation robes to attend high school or college commencement ceremonies should bring a great smile to our faces. It should also instill a sense of confidence that not all is bad in the world, for our outlook is brighter today due to their accomplishments and those that will come in the future.
Steve Stefanides, well-known by his nickname “Stef,” is an experienced awardwinning reporter of local civic and public interest news. Stef’s More Straight Talk column (and its predecessor, Straight Talk), on a variety of subjects, is a favorite of readers who trust him to bring them the facts. A Marco Island resident, Stef contributes to the community in many ways, having served on a number of city committees, charitable groups, boards and local organizations. Contact him by email at Stef@coastalbreezenews.com