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Barry Schrader


I currently write a column each Tuesday for the DeKalb Daily Chronicle. The column will also appear on this website each week and be added to the archives.

The Articles started December 2007.


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Middle schoolers opine on future

By Barry Schrader.................................April 5, 2011

What is the future for our children and grandchildren, and will they face the same challenges and world problems we do today? An essay contest with the theme of “How my generation will make a difference in 2020” brought out some enlightening predictions among local middle-school students who took the time to write about it.
The competition was sponsored by Oak Crest DeKalb Area Retirement Center and three residents – Ruth Brown, Marylou Getschman and Jane Helmchen – judged the writings of 109 students with vastly different opinions about what a their world will be like

Judges Ruth Brown, Marylou Getschman and Jane Helmchen with winner Anna McComb

as they reach their 20s. It was impressive to read the top-judged papers and realize what these young people have on their minds about the decade ahead.
First-place winner Anna McComb read her paper at the March 23 award night with her teacher, JoAnn Burton of Indian Creek Middle School, present. Anna’s paper was titled “Can our generation change the economy in 2020?” I would like to share some of her observations.
She opens with the statement, “We are the want generation. I want a phone. I want an iPod. I want more clothes. We want so many things we do not need.” This is pretty perceptive for a preteen who is bombarded daily, even hourly, by all the advertising messages about what they should have to make them happy and popular.
Anna explained that a lot of this is unnecessary and how it is better to save. She also wrote about bills – household bills, insurance, medical bills and credit cards. Then she painted a scenario: “You’re an adult, a parent, with a good job, a good house. Then one day your boss tells you that the company is losing money and you are laid off.” She follows this by explaining how it could force people “to move to a smaller house and try to find whatever job you can.”
Offering some sound financial advice to everyone, she wrote, “We can save our money and try not to buy the things we don’t really need.” She also talked about not buying the big-name brand clothes, using coupons at the supermarket and something as simple as turning the heat down and eating at home more instead of spending so much eating out.
She tackled the problem of too much credit card debt and suggested maybe not even using them, just spending cash when possible. Financial counselors have been telling adults these things for years, but how many of us listen? I think Anna could have a future as a financial adviser, or at the very least, will be a good influence on her generation when they inherit our financial burdens down the road.
Second-place winner Jonathon Farnsworth, also from Indian Creek, took a broader approach to looking at the world in 2020. He talked about technology that is portrayed by Hollywood today but may become reality. He was very perceptive in discussing advances in medicine, listing stem cell research, growing new organs and “being more aware of eating habits and regular exercise.” He sees a trend toward more jobs in technology. Sadly, but maybe accurately, he wrote, “As the demand for oil goes up there may be wars over the remaining supplies.” He later concluded that “our culture may tend to be more violent and defensive as we go through war.”
I wonder how much that their visions of the future are colored by the TV evening news or online reports of today’s latest crisis. We can only hope their teachers and parents can provide a balance in their outlook, and give them a vision for a brighter future as they help mold it.

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Barry Schrader
PO Box 851
DeKalb, Ill 60115