An impressive teen

Published 10:06 am Saturday, September 4, 2010

Every time we get discouraged about America’s youth and the future of the country they will lead, along comes an Ann Manning Cutchin to restore our faith.

Ann Manning, the 15-year-old daughter of Carlton and Jackie Cutchin of Franklin, paid tribute to a deceased friend and beautified an iconic Franklin park with the placement of a memorial marker and planting of a Japanese dogwood last month.

The teen singlehandedly conceived and funded — with proceeds from a yard sale — the Meadow Lane Park tribute to Carter Stephenson, who died with other Boy Scouts in a car accident four years ago. Carter, the son of Kent and Jennifer Stephenson of Franklin, was 14 at the time of his death. He would have graduated from Franklin High School this spring.

Ann Manning earned a Girl Scout award for the project, but that was secondary to her primary motive.

“I am doing this because I love Carter and the Stephenson family very much,” she told a reporter.

That kind of initiative, thoughtfulness and civic-mindedness strikes us as rare in a “me first” generation seemingly consumed by text messaging and video games. Or maybe such kindness is common but gets overshadowed by the misdeeds of a few bad apples. Regardless, the Ann Mannings of the younger generation give us hope that the great American tradition of service to community and fellow man will continue in the decades ahead.