This month, the Advocate features what I consider to be an interesting, and unintended, juxtaposition of stories.

On our cover, you can read about a few of our neighborhood high school’s most accomplished seniors as they celebrate graduation.

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Their stories are inevitably uplifting, and it’s hard not to be proud – right along with their friends and families – of their accomplishments.

“Your education is the most important thing you should focus on,” says one of our neighborhood seniors. “How can you be anything if you haven’t finished school?”

Says another: “I’ve never wanted to follow the herd. I’ve always seen myself as the stray.”

Says yet another: “I tell my younger cousins and friends at school that if you want to be someone in life, you’ve got to participate.”

That’s pretty much the philosophy we all like to think we live by, isn’t it? Study hard, follow your conscience and make a difference by participating. And then everything is supposed to work out all right.

Meanwhile, elsewhere in this month’s Advocate, we highlight some older kids who are running for the adult version of student council.

We asked these City Council and Mayoral wannabes to answer identical questions posed by the Advocate to ensure that the answers of competitive candidates would be directly comparable.

We printed their responses virtually verbatim – we didn’t want to filter their answers by sliding a few quotes here and there into a story about the races.

We hope you’ll read these answers, which we restricted to 50 words apiece in the hopes that the answers would actually address the questions, and we hope you’ll undertake this relatively simple task:

  1. Compare the views of today’s candidates (presumably our leaders of today) with the views of our future leaders.
  2. And answer this question honestly: Which group would you rather have speaking for you?

Some of the kids make a lot more sense to me than some of the adults. The graduates’ thoughts are more clear, and you can almost put your arms around the hope.

Most of us graduated from high school at one time, full of hope and ideas about life and how things should be. More than a few of us at that time probably thought – no, we knew – that we’d spend our lives “making a difference” in big ways by “helping others,” running socially relevant companies and, perhaps, running for political office.

With a few years of “real life” under our belts, the more cynical among us are sure to point out an obvious truth: It’s easy to be hopeful and optimistic when you haven’t been kicked around for years by an ungrateful boss or cheated out of a raise by the sniveling weasel in the office next door.

But you know, there’s something to be said for those simple truths that these outstanding neighborhood students hold to be self-evident.

And it makes me wonder what these students would do about our City’s crumbling infrastructure? How would they handle the Reunion Arena issue? What would they do about our juvenile justice system? About gangs?

When we were younger, we believed we had solutions to problems such as these. Now, it seems, many of us have only a deep-seated frustration about the “hopelessness” of it all.

Clearly, we can’t solve all of these problems today, or tomorrow, or maybe ever.

But May 6, we have a chance to take the first step: We have the opportunity to elect people who, for whatever reason, still want to become involved in a process on which so many of us have given up.

Sadly, historical statistics indicate that most of us won’t vote May 6 because we’re too busy or too lazy or too hopeless or too ignorant.

Is this the kind of example we want to set for our children? Or should we be following the example that our seniors are setting for us?

I have to wonder if sometimes, at least, we’d be better off with our high school student council running the City than some of the overgrown kids we’ll be sending Downtown this month.

At least the students have a plan they believe in. That’s something we need to continue encouraging.