Values worth emulating

Published 10:14 am Saturday, March 26, 2011

Western Tidewater Living will turn 1 year old when our spring issue hits the streets this coming week. You’ll be the judge, but we think it’s our best issue yet.

If you’ve never read our quarterly magazine, be sure to pick up a copy of this issue. If you read nothing else in it, please read Merle Monahan’s feature story on the 1953 graduating class of Nansemond County Training School in Holland. If you’re like me, you’ll be inspired by what you read.

The 14 surviving classmates of a graduating class of 22 strong turn 75 years old this year. Ten of the 14 gathered for a class reunion recently in Franklin.

Here’s the remarkable part: None of the 22 classmates was a teenage parent. None has ever been in trouble with the law. Each classmate married and enjoyed professional success, as have their children.

Those facts are made no more impressive by the fact that Nansemond County Training was an African-American school. They are impressive for a class of any race or socioeconomic status, from any generation.

My mostly white high school graduating class of the early 1980s doesn’t hold a candle to the Nansemond County Training Class of 1953’s blemish-free record of accomplishments. And we had many more advantages.

As I read Monahan’s story, I was reminded of the value of a good education — and how modern society doesn’t value education like parents and kids once did.

The recent crime wave in Franklin has hit about as close to home as possible without hitting me directly. One of my employees was robbed at gunpoint in the newspaper’s parking lot two weeks ago. My next-door neighbor’s home was burglarized in broad daylight a few days ago.

I’m more convinced than ever that Franklin must beef up its law enforcement. For the past four budget cycles, this newspaper has supported Chief Phil Hardison’s appeal for 10 new officers on the streets. Unfortunately, the City Council, outside of applying for a small federal grant, has refused to pony up. Perhaps the recent rash of crime will get the council’s attention.

While more officers certainly would help, no amount of police manpower will fix what ails today’s society and drives young people to rob, steal and kill.

The answer, I’m convinced, is a return to the values of the Nansemond County Training School Class of 1953.

If I were king for a day, I’d make Monahan’s story required reading for every school kid and first-time parent in Western Tidewater.

STEVE STEWART is publisher of The Tidewater News. His e-mail address is