Art Abelmann: A class act |

Art Abelmann: A class act

Art Abelmann
Special to The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

Yes, our high school students know how to do the right thing.

So often only the negative is heard about the teenager of today. Schools and parents are doing everything possible to help assure that kids today are making good choices. Choices that will help assure their success both in high school and beyond.

So often we talk about alcohol, drugs, driving and peer pressure. In addition, bullying and disrespect – along with lack of acceptance of others unlike themselves – is a topic among teen behaviors. Certainly sexuality and safe choices and decision making are brought into the mix as well. And, for the most part, I believe our high school students do deal with all the pressures they are feeling in a good way, and at the end of the day make the right decision.

Last Friday, it was proven to me that, without provocation, coaching or suggestion, the student body of Aspen High School knew exactly what to do, how to behave, and how to do the right thing.

I had the honor of presenting to the high school community the story of Kurt Bresnitz. The story of a man robbed of his high school diploma due to a horrific time in history that few can ever imagine living through. There I was, in front of 550 students assembled for a school meeting they had no knowledge about. Our music teacher played an Americana medley of sounds. Next to me sat two men that none of the students knew or had seen before. Then the reason and story slowly was shared as I addressed the school body.

With a silence that one rarely experiences in a high school gymnasium, students forgot about all of their own issues and paid attention to the tale that caught their ear. The reflection of a man, once similar in age to themselves, who now at age 93, sat before them. A man who was being recognized with an honorary diploma for what he missed out on so many years ago when the world was a much different place. As the story unraveled, and as students listened – forgetting about their next class, homework assignment, quiz and test to cram for, or the time they were missing with classmates, boyfriends and girlfriends – the high school students knew what to do.

Kurt received his diploma so many years later and as if rehearsed – but it was not. The entire student body stood and applauded with respect and reverence for a hero they had just come to know simply a few minutes earlier. Proper, polite and prominent with demeanor worthy of notice, each teen knew what to do and they made the decision on their own. The decision to properly give validation and the warmth of a reception for a hero, now in tears, he so deserved.

Congratulations to Kurt, but also congratulations to the teenagers of Aspen High School for showing and reminding all of us that you do know how to do the right thing and you too should be recognized for your contribution for making the right decision and doing yourselves, your school and community proud.