Fern attended high school in a small town. She was one of those nice but unnoticed girls who don’t become much but a face on a yearbook page and a name on the rolls. Her family was poor, and they lived out of town. She was not part of the “in crowd,” and the only time her name came up in a conversation of other students was in that mocking, sarcastic way that seems funny when you are young, insecure, and need to ridicule someone else to take the pressure off yourself. Her name became synonymous with anything dumb or out of style. If a thing was unacceptable or ridiculous, the students called it “Ferny.”
Young people can be so cruel.
It was an annual tradition in the school to recognize the student who showed the most school spirit and support for the athletic teams. When the assembly came to honor that student, as expected, they called out the name of one of the more popular girls in the school. She bounced up the aisle smiling and waving to all her friends. But then a miracle happened. As she took the stage, she said, “I can’t accept this award. Yes, I have loved the teams and cheered for them at every game. But Fern has come to every game, too. I came in a nice, warm car surrounded by my happy friends. She came alone and walked all the way—two and a half miles—sometimes in the rain or snow. She had to sit by herself, but I don’t know anyone who cheered with as much spirit as Fern. I would like to nominate her for the most enthusiastic student in the school.”
Fern was escorted to the stage to a spontaneous standing ovation from her fellow students.
Youth can be so kind.
– Robert L. Backman
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