VOM Rotary: Kids These Days

Oakmont Rotary Club
  • John Brodey

You may remember Father Guido Sarducci. He was the chain smoking, fallen priest who did little vignettes on the old Saturday Night Live. One, in particular, was based on the unreliability of memory. Twenty years after graduation from college what valuable information do you retain from those 64 courses you took? May be one or two things, right? His answer was to only teach the key concept for each course, period. Economics? Well, that’s just the law of supply and demand! Next course, etc. In so doing you could encapsulate each course in five minutes and graduate in one week. That works for me. Now try remembering anything from elementary school. For me, that would be recess and the two balls; kick and dodge. Walking to school was my big take away.

Times have changed. While in our age group 70 is the new 50, in elementary school 10 is the new 25. Our Valley of the Moon Rotary’s ‘Student of the Month’ Award is a case in point and it is one of our very favorite endeavors. But what makes our selection special is that it is NOT based on academics. There is more to life than a great GPA. The key phrase for Rotary is ‘service above self’ and in that context, we feel that the kind of person you are speaks as loudly as how smart you are.

Our award recipient for this month is Cameron Gonzalez who attends Matanzas Creek elementary. It turns out that MCS is not just a main stream school but one that has several classes of disabled children. Their issues range from severe physical handicaps to a wide range of developmental disorders. Rather than quarantine them on a separate campus, the idea is to include them, make them feel as ‘normal’ as possible. But how to make that truly happen?

Enter Cameron. As his principal explained, upon arrival at Matanzas, Cameron felt the need to reach out and connect with this group of students. A sixth grader now, over the years he has spent many days interacting with them at lunch and recess. He is always available to them and has forged remarkable friendships. Those who are dramatically different from us tend to be frightening to most people. It takes courage to see past that and Cameron is not only brave but innately kind and patient. He also volunteers for Toys For Tots and other community projects. At the 6th grade summer camp, Cameron made sure his special needs friends had a great camp experience. Next summer he’ll be going to the junior Special Olympics to support one of those friends. If there is a more grounded, mature and remarkable 6th grader anywhere I’d like to meet

them. Cameron is the kind of person who just makes you smile. Elementary school sure looks a lot different these days.

Don’t forget the VOM Crab Feed. The date is February 16, 2019 at the Berger Center. For tickets ask any Rotarian or write to valerie.hulsey@yahoo.com.


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