Ruby LaRocca—the winner of our high school essay contest—urges her generation to read old books, memorize poems, and invite senior citizens to parties.
Note the beautiful sentence: “The taut cable of high expectations has been slackened, and the result is the current mood: listlessness.”
Sign this young lady up as a regular contributor.
This is so sane and courageous it has bolstered my hope for humanity.
This actually brought tears to my eyes. I have a 1st grade boy (in a Classical Christian school) and sent him to summer camp at the local public high school, and I saw mostly kids on phones, playing games, or kids watching OTHER kids play on THEIR phones, hardly talking. I was cheered to see young girls playing some game outside with no identifiable name, yet they knew the rules and kept each other in check. And I was pleased to see kids playing outside while waiting for their parents, although the majority (including, unfortunately, my son much of the time) were "kept quiet" inside watching something on YouTube. And needless to say, the high school rooms and corridors were covered in rainbow flags, stickers, and "inclusive messaging" (hence why we send him to private school). I worry for these kids so much--it feels like they won't even know how to be happy. I want something better for my son, who is curious, asks hard questions, is (way too) talkative, and amazingly observant. Ruby shows a path. I'm pretty certain the traditional public school is dead and cannot be resurrected. But I want her to be the way forward, not the glazed-eyed youth the public schools (and colleges) are churning out. We've done an amazing job of (literally) neutering them and giving them lobotomies. I hope there's an uprising of Rubies in response. Bless her. I've loved these essays so much! Well done, FP.
“Having a phone in your pocket is like always carrying around a glazed donut that constantly tempts you to snack on it—but if you do, you know it will ruin your appetite.” ... more Ruby, please!
Ms. Ruby you are a hope generator.
I hope to read more of your good thoughts down the road.
What a wonderful piece. Ms. LaRocca's advice is sound not only for those in their teens, but for all of us (including those of us chipping away at our seventh decade).
All of us would do well to read old books, famliarize ourselves with poetry, slow down a bit, pay attention to how we interact with others, and lose the phone from time to time.
It's a wonderful thing to see someone so young figure these things out, and to articulate them so well.
Bari, The essay contest was inspired and you picked a real winner in Ruby LaRocca. Her essay was exceptional for its construction, content, and message. I cannot help but feel a sense of sadness and even despair as I look around our society and see the damage done by abandonment of classical education, repudiation of traditional values, embrace of illiberal ideologies, confusion regarding long established universal truths (e.g. binary gender), and a complete absence of a moral compass by our institutions, educational system, and government. The rise and hegemony of big tech and social media over all of society and the sheep-like group think of even highly educated adults that has given us things like identity politics, critical race theory in the guise of DEI, and allowed an unprecedented suspension of civil liberties never before seen in America in the interest of safety has become a monster that will be hard to kill. To know that there are young people like Ms. LaRocca who stand firm on a solid foundation of classical education, have divested themselves of the albatross of social media, and learned to think critically gives me hope. It is they who will slay this dragon. Bless you, Free Press, for this wonderful essay contesst. May I suggest that you continue to showcase other essays from contestants that will shine a much needed positive light on the next generation and give us old folks hope. Rick
This is the kind of teenager who should have Greta Thunberg status, not Greta. Unfortunately, she's too busy translating Latin poetry. A great essay!
Oh Lord. With a 1000 people like her one could change the world.
More fully formed human beings. Fewer mere recipients of shallow pleasures. Please.
Wow. Just wow. There is hope.
What a delightful, charming, witty young woman. Let's hear more from her, Bari.
As far as her former "educators?" People who believe (the National Council of Teachers of English) that it is time “to decenter book reading and essay writing as the pinnacles of English language arts education” are cretins, nitwits and fools who should not be allowed anywhere near a classroom or have any contact with impressionable young minds. It's long past time to break up the teachers unions and all of their "professional" organizations, including and most of all, the US Department of "Education."
Congrats, well done 👏
I’m a former academic, and she’s right about everything - education is absolutely in crisis. I love her, and wish we had the wisdom as a country to create the culture she’s talking about, instead of persisting in the hair-brained ideas that Haidt outlined in “The Coddling of the American Mind.”
#6. Seek God. Do it now, then you will know how to find him in your hour of need. The psalms, written more than 3000 years ago often speak directly to one or mirror one’s thoughts. Imagine Psalm 90, written by Moses himself - he who saw God! Psalm 19, the KJV translation is my favourite. The young scholars could add Hebrew to those ancient languages worth tackling.
My goodness, that girl can write....because she reads. I wish you would make this really shareable.
What a wonderful essay from a young, wise person! I have so enjoyed reading the finalist student's words in the previous two essays, and I am amazed at their depth and insights into problems of today, but LaRocca has really laid out a formula for good learning and living for her peers. One that I hope will not fall on deaf ears. One day in the future I want to hear about the great things LaRocca does with her life and the wonderful things she has learned and teaches. There's a lot of hope here.