For What It’s Worth

Right action, rude action

Win a state championship in the 1,600-meter race and some attention will come your way. It did last weekend for Megan Vogel, a junior at West Liberty-Salem High School in the small town of West Liberty, OH, when she set a school record time in winning the race and became the school’s first female state champ since 1984.

“It is the best feeling in the world,” she admitted. “I was just speechless after I won. To achieve something you have worked your entire life for is amazing. You can’t describe it or put it into words.”

Perhaps more amazing is that her first-place victory and state championship did not get her as much attention as her last-place finish the same day. Try putting that into words.

Soon after running the 1,600, Megan competed in the 3,200-meter run. She found herself running out of energy and slipped into last place. Determined to finish, she continued on. Coming down the backstretch, Megan saw the runner in front of her collapse with about 100 meters to go. Rather than running by her, Megan stopped, picked up the fallen runner, and held her up all the way to the finish line, even holding the fatigued runner in front of her so that she finished next to last and Megan finished last in the race.

For that selfless act, Megan has received attention all week. Not only did the daily newspaper in the nearby town of Bellefontaine, OH, feature her Good Samaritan act in a lengthy story, she has been the focus of stories in national media, including ESPN and CNN.

Megan seemed surprised by the attention and quite humble about it in interviews. She said everyone entering the race deserved to finish and she was sure anyone else would have done the same thing. I would like to believe that anyone else would have, Megan, and I hope you maintain this attitude and outlook.

What Megan did was the right action, the right thing.

Not so for the woman in South Carolina whose hooting and hollering in celebration of her daughter’s high school graduation got her evicted from the commencement ceremonies.

With my graduations, high school and college graduations of my children and grandchildren, and attending graduations as a faculty member, I have witnessed numerous commencements over the years and one thing I have noticed is a growing rowdiness and less decorum. Despite the pleas of school officials for audience members to restrain from excessive shouting, hollering and other over-exuberance, this type of rude behavior continues to occur.

Parents, family members and friends should be proud of the person graduating and exhibit their pride. It is a special moment for them to hear their student’s name announced. But it’s also a moment of pride for all the others as their names are announced. Excessive celebration of your pride that robs others in attendance of the opportunity to hear their students’ names announced is a selfish and rude act.

I’m glad the woman in South Carolina is proud of her child, but that pride does not justify disrupting the event for others. The woman was arrested and evicted for violation of the school’s anti-disruption policy. In interviews with reporters, the woman seemed not to understand why she was evicted, and her daughter complained afterward, “Yesterday can’t be replaced.”

That’s the point. It couldn’t be replaced for the others, either. Her mom heard her daughter’s name, but mom’s disruptive behavior was denying others the same privilege. Is that too hard to understand?

The actions of two people drew considerable attention last week. One action showed respect and concern for others. The second action did not.

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1 Response to For What It’s Worth

  1. Cindy says:

    Kudos to Megan, a true champion!

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