Don't stand in the doorway

Thirteen years ago on a sunny June 4, we picked up our kindergartner (Colette) and first-grader from school. Our son, strapped in his stroller and turning 1 in two weeks, seemed unimpressed with the excitement surrounding "school's out for summer." The moment was memorialized in a favorite family photo capturing us on the sidewalk that leads to Madison Elementary's front entrance.

Fast forward to the same spot on a recent Sunday in May, and many of Colette's kindergarten schoolmates gathered in what's become an annual tradition - a photo opp of Hinsdale Central seniors/Madison alumni on the school steps wearing T-shirts from the colleges they will attend. Colette's shirt would have spotlighted her partial exorcism from Red Devil to Blue Demon, but she had a schedule conflict. I thought about the serious obstacles and pressures our graduating seniors overcame on their journeys from 2009-22, and I had no doubt they had to grow up faster than I did.

Yet a SCOTUS justice recently expressed his worries about the "different attitude of the young" who may not show institutions the same respect as older generations. On the contrary, I'm optimistic about those young attitudes who challenge the status quo. I'm confident our graduating students will be much better positioned to improve the issues that we can't (or won't).

In fact, The Hinsdalean has reported multiple stories on local youths already addressing some of those issues: Aminah Ahmed advocating against persecution of Muslim migrants in India; Alexandria and Catherine Collins campaigning against environmental emissions from Sterigenics; climate activists Mohammad Ahmadi and Mia Sekiguchi leading a Global Day of Climate Action rally at Burlington Park; and Bridget McBride, as co-president of Hinsdale Central's Gender Sexuality Alliance, advocating in support of the LGBTQ+ student community, to name a few.

These articles illustrate that our students have done an enormous amount of growing up, they're extremely knowledgeable and they're well informed when it comes to their beliefs.

So best wishes class of 2022 as you continue to inspire in your future journeys.

We'll see you back at the Madison steps for the final time in 2026 for my son's alumni photo opp (college shirt TBD, but it won't be Purdue). Until then, with this my final assignment, I have just two more words to write: Conway out.

- Bret Conway of Hinsdale is a contributing columnist. Readers can email him at [email protected].