Monday, May 18, 2009

Bako Bits: graduation season, celebrating high achievers and fretting about the lost generation

Coming off another splendid weekend in Bakersfield, which lived up to its nickname "Bako" on Sunday when my car told me it was 106 degrees outside. Hot as it was, the skies were blue and everyone was out: working in their yards, washing cars, on the bike trail early, enjoying the coming of our "warm season." I spent the weekend at a skeet tournament in west Kern where I came across a number of youngsters, most of them high school seniors eager to call it a day and move on to college. I admire these kids who manage to stay focused to the end, particularly one who sat on a sofa studying for her final Advanced Placement exam and another who was celebrating a scholarship to a small college in Missouri. But let's be honest: Kern County has a dismal high school dropout rate (above 20 percent) and only 7 percent of our seniors have what it takes to get into a "UC" like UCLA, Berkeley, UC Davis etc. So it's worth celebrating those that do:

* ... BEST AND BRIGHTEST: The magazine BakersfieldLife is once again devoting its cover story (check it out above) to some of our high achieving kids. I'm always impressed with these kids and their stories. This year we've got one going to MIT in Cambridge, a bunch headed to UCLA and one bound for Georgetown. (Hint to the uninformed: you have to have better than a mere 4.0 GPA to get into UCLA and Georgetown) I challenge anyone to read this and not be impressed. Local writer Dana Martin wrote the story and did a terrific job capturing the spirit of these kids. Look for BakersfieldLife in the Saturday home delivered edition of The Californian on May 30.
* ... MICHELLE OBAMA: Hats off to First Lady Michelle Obama who gave the first commencement address at the new UC Merced campus. Reports said her 22-minute speech was truly uplifting, a nice valentine to this new California campus.
* .... AND WHAT ABOUT THE OTHERS?: I made the mistake of dropping by the Marketplace shopping center early Friday evening. I was greeted by literally hundreds of young teens and they didn't exactly inspire me or give me confidence for the future. Many of these kids looked liked a classic "lost generation" of underachievers who might one day be part of those kids who never make it through high school. Judgmental yes, but take a look for yourself.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Bakersfield is not unlike a lot of places with the teenagers you call "lost." LA and San Francisco are full of them so we are not alone. But you are right, the Marketplace on the weekends is just horrible. I wonder if it hurts business there.