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Of teenagers, tonsil hockey and happiness.

Byline: Bob Welch / The Register-Guard

I just spent nine hours in a six-person conference room with 105 high school columnists. And am here to tell you that the world isn't going to hell in a handbasket.

It's actually going in a fruit basket with a macrame handle and -

No, no, no. Just kidding. Just kidding. Some of that teenage-columnist energy obviously rubbed off on me while I was judging the Northwest Scholastic Press' Publications Olympics competition.

No, with these young people in charge, the world shouldn't be in any worse shape than when we baby boomers marched off to change the world, then got distracted by dot.coms, "Survivor" and double lattes.

You learn a lot from reading 105 columns, not the least of which is the term "tonsil hockey," which Allie Grasgreen of McMinnville High used in a piece on PDAs (Public Displays of Affection), as in: "It's hard enough to get through the halls in five minutes without having to navigate around some nasty tonsil hockey that I would really rather not see."

You learn that, with inflated grades, 4.0 valedictorians are increasing like Lane County sugar ants - and that some parents have sued when their children have been left off the list.

You learn that there's a new state law allowing high-schoolers to opt out of dissecting frogs.

You learn that the world of high school isn't anything like you remember - and is everything like you remember.

At Lebanon High School, Tristan Reece writes of the rape of a friend of hers. At the same school, Bronson Brimacomb tells of a 16-year-old runaway who, so starved to feel something, cuts herself regularly. And Alyssa Perkins, of Barlow High School, writes boldly of her bisexuality. (`I find a boyfriend. Our tastes in girls differ, but I am happy.')

It's not 1971, is it?

But, then, student-administration tension remains as constant as the tides.

Among the more intriguing debates is at Dallas High School where columnist Brian Aebi wonders why the administration - critical of what it perceives as poor sportsmanship from students - frowns on the basketball cheer "You! You! You!" but is split on "Air ball! Air ball! Air ball!"

More serious questions are being raised elsewhere. At Beaverton High School, Aidan Beers ponders why nobody seems to know what happens to the $16 students pay for their Associated Student Body stickers.

And at sports-minded North Medford High School, Alex Marchi dares to call for perspective on high school sports. (`Ease up! These kids don't have multimillion-dollar contracts to play football. High school sports are supposed to be about hard work, team building, and ... having fun.')

Some columns worry you, like one defending the "MySpace" Web site - a place for students to share info about themselves - with gone-wild zeal. (`Nothing can stop my love for this beautiful creation.')

And yet, more encouraging, a number of columnists rail mightily against such technology. "People are becoming more distant from each other," writes Lindsey Pence of Sandy High School. "MySpace isn't a form of creativity; it's a form of self promotion."

A classmate, Natanya Swanson, writes of a teacher who began a class by asking how many students were happy - only a few hands went up - and then pointed out how much more Americans and Europeans have, materially, than the rest of the world.

"Shouldn't our hearts be content?" wonders Swanson. "Yes, however they aren't because our world tries to convince us that ownership of many possessions will give us happiness."

In decrying cell-phone madness, Jessica Pingleton of Hillsboro's Century High writes: "People are more important than machines, and the minute we stop believing that is the minute our generation is doomed."

Sounds to me like a generation that's going someplace. As long as they can get by those annoying folks in the hallway playing tonsil hockey.
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Article Details
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Title Annotation:Columns
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Article Type:Column
Date:Mar 30, 2006
Previous Article:Smelly exhaust gets an airing.

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