Instead of whining, NAACP should be there to praise

February 27, 1999|By Gregory Kane

ME AND MY BIG mouth.

There I was, the guest speaker at the induction ceremony of Randallstown High School's National Honor Society (the Bertrand Russell Chapter) when I asked why the media weren't covering the event.

"We cover high school athletics," I said. "Why don't we cover students who achieve academically?"

After the speech, the parents of one student called me on it. Yeah, they said in essence, why the hell don't you cover it?

I hadn't meant me, personally, of course. I was referring to the local television stations and radio and all those other media outlets. But that's the problem. Everybody in the media probably agrees that we should give more coverage to academically achieving students. But we believe it's the rest of those media folks who should do it.

But since I brought it up, I guess I'll have to get the ball rolling.

So here are the National Honor Society inductees of Randallstown Senior High, that sprawling complex on Offutt Road in Baltimore County that's bigger than some Third World countries. Students named should note that the spelling is taken directly from the program provided. If there are any misspellings, you really need to chat with your printer.

Michael Andre, Tennese Bryant, Lamont Cook, Yannika Crowell, Mayling Duncan, Naeemah Duncan, Treshawnna Fayson, Crystal Gibson, Monica Green, Felecia Hurley, Eric Moorman, Crystal Owens, Kristen Perrin, Shannon Simpson, Racquel Stewart, Nitu Thakore, Tina Woodward and Corey Wright.

So there they are: 18 inductees to join the 31 members of Randallstown's National Honor Society. (I regret that space does not allow me to give the 31 names of the current members, but those of you who are left out can rest assured of one thing: I love ya.) Eighteen students who take learning seriously enough to make it into an honor society. And most of them -- I hope members of the Baltimore County chapter of the NAACP are reading this -- are black.

Everyone knows where I'm going with this, so I'll just cut to the chase. Last week, yet another member of the Baltimore County NAACP was on television, bemoaning the dismal performance of black students in Baltimore County and pointing the finger of blame at the school system.

It would have been nice if a representative of the county NAACP had been on hand Monday to offer what no doubt would have been some much appreciated congratulations to Randallstown's National Honor Society inductees and their parents. The county NAACP can't do that, of course. Admitting that there exist black county students who have the smarts and grades to be of National Honor Society caliber would raise a nagging, nasty question: If those black Randallstown students can succeed academically, are the problems with those black students who don't caused by the system or themselves?

Here's a suggestion: Have the parents of those black Baltimore County students who are flunking hook up with the parents of Randallstown's National Honor Society members. The latter may have some suggestions on how to raise children to achieve academically.

Anyone prepared to sneer at the impact parents can have should consider this anecdote. The coach of an area high school wrestling team told me that when the grade averages of some of his wrestlers dip below 85, their parents yank them off the team so that they can concentrate more on studying. When he coached at another area school, it was rare for him to get a wrestler whose average even approached 85.

And since I'm on the subject of wrestling.

While I'm in a saluting mood, I'd like to pay homage to all the guys -- every man jack of them -- who have wrestled for a city high school this season. Wrestlers at all Maryland high schools deserve praise, of course. But I single out those who wrestle for city high schools for these reasons:

They participate in a sport that is not popular in city high schools. Most schools don't even have enough wrestlers to fill all the weight classes.

They participate in a grueling sport that requires sacrifice and determination.

They take to the mats and give it their best shot, even if their skills aren't all that good.

These guys have shown a rare quality called character by devoting an entire season to wrestling. We could all learn from their example.

Pub Date: 2/27/99

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