Yael T. Abouhalkah

Kansas teen’s eloquent letter challenges Sam Brownback to help schools

On her Twitter account, Haeli Maas of Smoky Valley High School describes herself this way: “junior at svhs, newspaper editor, softball enthusiast.”
On her Twitter account, Haeli Maas of Smoky Valley High School describes herself this way: “junior at svhs, newspaper editor, softball enthusiast.”

Bravo, Haeli Maas.

The junior at Smoky Valley High School in Lindsborg in the heart of Kansas has penned an eloquent letter to Gov. Sam Brownback.

The letter is on the verge of going viral with defenders of K-12 schools in Kansas, for good reasons.

Brownback ought to respond to it, especially if he wants to take advantage of a good opportunity to explain his position on school funding.

Others who need to read the letter include all the adults in the Kansas Legislature who seemed determined to cut support for K-12 schools.

Maas’ letter — signed “From your fellow Kansan” — is not at all a personal attack on Brownback.

Indeed, it talks about the need for her generation to work hard, but also to be given the tools it will need to make a difference in this world.

Her last paragraph is a gem:

“This is a beautiful state. Kansas has so much to offer to so many people. We are truly capable of anything. Within our borders, we harbor the potential to be something truly great. Do not forget to put faith in your youth, and do not bypass our education in order to save face. Invest in our future, and you will inevitably be investing in your future. After all, if you forget to educate the youth, who will take care of you?”

Touché.

Other websites are picking up on the letter, giving it more deserved attention.

We’ll see if it makes a difference.

Here is the full letter:

“To Governor Sam Brownback

“I am writing you today as a concerned citizen of Kansas. I am currently sixteen years old and a junior at Smoky Valley High School, while also maintaining two jobs. In my free time I do homework, and the chances of any other free time are incredibly rare.

“While in school, I maintain a 3.8 GPA, something I am very proud of. I am enrolled in honors courses and try my best to make everything I do count. I love school. I have loved school since the day I started school. I hope that in the future I will be allowed to continue my education in college, and love school just as much in my time there.

“I read a few years ago some very wise words from a judge restated by principal John Tapene at Northland College. He said:

‘ “The world does not owe you a living, you owe the world something. You owe it your time, energy and talent so that no one will be at war, in sickness and lonely again. In other words grow up, stop being a crybaby, get out of your dream world and develop a backbone, not a wishbone. Start behaving like a responsible person. You are important and you are needed. It’s too late to sit around and wait for somebody to do something someday. Someday is now and that somebody is you!”

“Someday is now, sir. It is up to you to pave our way. You are the determining factor in the future of my generation’s lives. Education is important and it should never be put on the back burner to the rest of the issues. Do not write off my generation and refuse us the opportunity to educate ourselves, because we will surprise you. We are capable and ready to take on the world, and if we are put into the world without the education to make a difference, then it is you who will pay. It is you who will count on us in your age. If you wish to see this great state continue to be great, educate the future.

“I will have completed my public education within the next year and a half. I will move on into the future and I will succeed because that is who I am. I have younger siblings still in school, and I fear for them. I fear that my little sister will forget her love for school, and lose the spark that makes her such a unique and beautiful person. It is up to you to keep that spark. It is up to you to fight for our future and our education, so that we may fight for you when the time comes.

“This is a beautiful state. Kansas has so much to offer to so many people. We are truly capable of anything. Within our borders, we harbor the potential to be something truly great. Do not forget to put faith in your youth, and do not bypass our education in order to save face. Invest in our future, and you will inevitably be investing in your future. After all, if you forget to educate the youth, who will take care of you?

“From your fellow Kansan,

“Haeli Allison Maas”

To reach editorial page columnist Yael T. Abouhalkah, call 816-234-4887 or send email to abouhalkah@kcstar.com. Twitter @YaelTAbouhalkah.

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