With school back in session, my heart goes out to the many dedicated educators who are not only trying to educate students academically, but also preparing them to become good, solid citizens.

As a principal for many years, I remember so well how we as a school staff emphasized the importance of students being good citizens and knowing how to apologize when they were wrong.

For dedicated educators, being in a school that stresses those skills is a must. They want their students to go into the world and make it a better place.

The reason my heart goes out to today’s educators is that now, our students can turn on the television, computers and social media and witness people who might be expected to be great role models but are behaving and talking in ways that are totally inappropriate. Their behaviors do not encourage young people to be the best that they can be.

Our staff fully appreciated the elementary counselors because they taught classes such as conflict management, behavior modification and anger control. They also taught concepts such as respecting self and others and getting along with classmates. They were always there for young ones who needed a shoulder to cry on.

And we also thanked the many volunteers doing community service. Some volunteer activities such as serving food to the less fortunate, helping homeless people, tutoring children or volunteering in church ministries can make a huge difference in the lives of others.

As author Anthony J. D’Angelo wrote, “Without a sense of caring, there can be no sense of community.”

A favorite example of this in action is the Levester Hooks Memorial Youth and Senior Fishing Tournament, which celebrated its 25th anniversary this year. Many people know about the fishing tournament that Linwood and Lynn Coffin started with help from a UPS grant, donors and volunteers, but they may not know how long it’s been in existence.

It started out as L&L Youth and Senior Programs, but it was eventually renamed in honor of Levester Hooks. Hooks was a senior citizen who became a regular participant over the years before he died in 1999.

Seeing families together over the years at the Benson Park pond sharing fishing and fellowship on warm summer days is uplifting. Enjoying friendly competitions — catching the biggest fish, the most fish, the longest fish, the ugliest fish or the first fish of the day — delights the participants.

Trophies and certificates are given out for these catches, food and drinks are plentiful, and even a $2 fee for each participant is waived if the person cannot afford it. The event draws children just old enough to hold a fishing pole to people 65 and older.

For a compassionate couple like the Coffins to take the time and energy to provide a worthwhile activity that has lasted so many years is phenomenal.

But this is not a story just about fish, or trophies, or food and drinks. It’s a story about love, caring and decency. It’s a story about human beings being charitable and generous to each other. It’s about strong adults modeling loving, kind and appropriate behavior to a younger generation.

It’s about those people who have fully embraced John 13:34: “A new commandment I give to you: love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”

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