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Perspective: Making connections


It was a brief conversation with two Genoa-Kingston freshmen—names unknown—but it literally made my day.

Each day during the school year, a number of high school students cross the Kishwaukee River footbridge on their way to or from the school. On a pleasant fall afternoon in the park recently, I attempted to say hello to a few of them as they returned at the end of the school day.

My first two greetings were ignored—NOT because the students were deliberately rude, but because ear buds or headphones had put them in their own separate world.

But two more students who were not “wired” crossed a moment later, and this time, they stopped and returned the greeting with genuine friendliness. I actually thanked them for that, and keeping a respectful distance, engaged them in short social conversation. Noticing that one boy wore a University of Illinois shirt, I mentioned that my undergraduate degree was from there, and if you stood on a tuna can in central Illinois you could see 50 miles. I think he actually believed me.

These conversations between kids and adults were routine when I grew up in Genoa long, long ago. But they're becoming an endangered relic as more and more teens “tune out” their surroundings. Thankfully, on that day, these two freshmen boys gave me a feeling of connectedness. God Bless them.

I'm Jim Kline, and that is my Perspective.

DeKalb County resident Jim Kline grew up in Genoa and earned a B.S. in Communications from the University of Illinois and an M.S. in Outdoor Teacher Education from Northern Illinois University.