Mayor's Message Pleasant Hill
Jan 02, 2018 02:22PM ● Published by Michael Harris
Our Children Are the Future We May Never See
By Michael G. Harris, OD
In previous columns, I’ve written about “a month in the life of the mayor” and the city's highlights and accomplishments in 2017. In this, my last column as mayor of Pleasant Hill, I'd like to reflect back on what's inspired me the most during my fourth term as mayor and what the future holds for our city.
When I look back, I am inspired and impressed by the young people I’ve met who show so much promise and potential. Let's face it, "Our children are the future we may never see.” After working with children from kindergarten through high school, I know the future is bright. Let me give you some examples.
The enthusiasm and joy I see in young children is contagious. Every time I look into the face of a child, I see hope for the future. Kids are innately kind to others, regardless of race, religion, or nationality. It just seems natural that they don't judge or hate. Our job as parents and grandparents is to make sure they stay that way.
Recently, first and second graders came to City Hall to decorate the city's Christmas tree and sing Christmas carols. Their excitement and energy was palpable. They could hardly wait to put their handmade ornaments on the tree and sing the songs they had been practicing at school. Their excitement increased when Santa Claus made a surprise visit. I only wish adults could feel that same sense of joy and wonder that these youngsters did.
During my first term as mayor, I established mock city council meetings with third graders from Pleasant Hill schools. In preparation, I go to the schools and discuss why we need rules and how government works. I'm constantly astonished by the insightful questions that these third graders ask.
I am further amazed by the fantastic job they do at the meetings, where they discuss issues that are important to third graders. They select their own mayor, councilmembers, and city staff. Members of the class then present their arguments for or against the issues on the agenda.
For example, Gregory Gardens’ third graders discussed whether or not they should be allowed to wear Halloween costumes to school on Halloween. After hearing compelling arguments on both sides, their council voted 4 to 1 not to allow costumes. Their main reason: the costumes might get ripped or dirty at school so the students couldn’t wear them trick-or-treating that night.
Valhalla third graders discussed whether their school should require school uniforms. The most compelling reason for uniforms was that they would help reduce bullying and making fun of kids whose clothes weren't of the latest style. The arguments against were twofold: 1) students might not be able to recognize each other on the playground because everybody's wearing the same clothes, and 2) if you don't have time to wash your uniform for the next day, nobody's going to want to sit next to you because you’re “stinky." Their council voted 4 to 1 against school uniforms.
The logic of their arguments and the poise and confidence they showed in speaking before a large audience was inspirational. These kids know how to think and know how to make good decisions. I am constantly impressed with the maturity shown by the younger generation.
My interaction with all these youngsters gives me great hope for the future. Our city and country will be in good hands if these kids apply the lessons they've learned in school to their adult lives. After all, in the words of FDR, “We may not be able to prepare the future for our children, but we can at least prepare our children for the future.”