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A better idea

I have no idea how many of you have succumbed to the lure of Facebook, but I will own up to it right here in the first sentence of this opinion column. I did sign on — yes, indeed, about 18 months ago. I have not yet decided if I really like it or really hate it. Some days I forget to look at it and sometimes that is the first thing I check when I wake up.

Among other things, Facebook has allowed me to re-connect with former friends from various stages of my life like high school or college. I will admit that I have serious doubts about knowing some people in either category, but they seem to know me. Many even share their family photos, memories of our years together, religious and political views, and their retirement plans. Wow.

Sandwiched in with those that I don’t remember are some whose names I recognize. There are several that I wish I had known better when we were in school together. Connecting with them has been rewarding — an experience I would never have had without Facebook.

One of those is a woman named Dianne, from my high school graduating class. I did vaguely remember her name and face and clicked ‘confirm’ when she asked to become a Facebook friend. I think we might have been in physical education together … probably spent our high school years being the last two picked for the dodge ball team (or maybe that was just me!) Who knows or cares at this point?

We have developed a good friendship and I appreciate her memory, her character, and her savvy acumen about our class and life in general! She is the mother of three married sons and the grandmother of a group of youngsters headed off to elementary school this week.

A week or so ago she posted something on Facebook that stuck with me. She tells me she is not the author, but she also doesn’t know who is. That is alright, she gave the publication a boost by posting it on her Facebook page and I would like to share it with you as you get ready to send your own kiddos back to school here in our district today.

She wrote, “A special request to all of you kids returning to school in the next few days — if you see someone who is struggling to make friends or being bullied because he or she doesn’t have many friends or because they are shy or maybe not so pretty, or not dressed in the most ‘in’ clothes — PLEASE step up! Say hi to them or at least smile at them in the hallway. You never know what that person might be facing outside of school. Your kindness might just make a BIG difference in someone’s life!”

Dianne lives about 750 miles from here, but it sounds like the school district about which she cares is not so different from the school district about which we care. Many families everywhere are experiencing difficult financial times and, as always, the children are the ones who suffer.

So … please help your children have a generous heart when they head off to Peabody-Burns attendance centers this week. One of the best things you can do for the children you love is to help them help others…most especially those who need a break. They will be better kids for it, you will be better parents for it, and for all our efforts, our communities will be better places in which to raise families.

And thank you, Dianne, for reminding me that despite the miles and 40 years, our lives and concerns are much the same.

— Susan Marshall

Last modified Aug. 25, 2011

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