And a Happy Friday to you! Should be a really fun weekend for yours truly, with activities both meaningful and fun (my son’s going to his first fall harvest festival! For him, it’s getting to go on a hay ride and get his face painted. For me it’s just an excuse to go eat some cider donuts.)
Three stories this week on Good News Friday that hopefully will make you smile.
First, this story makes me smile, big-time. Study after study, anecdote after anecdote, illustrates the immense potential of prison inmates to rehabilitate themselves, get a real education, and become useful members of society if and when they get out.
And yet even though great strides have been made since Andy Dufresne built a prison library at Shawshank, funding for prisoner education programs lags far, far behind what it should be.
But look at a story like this, and tell me how you could possibly disagree that there’s so much potential in so many inmates.
Last weekend the Harvard debate team, the current national collegiate champs, traveled to the Eastern N.Y. Correctional Facility, a maximum-security prison upstate.
Inmates there have formed a debate club and get courses taught by professors at Bard College, located nearby.
The inmates at Eastern have gotten quite good at debates, beating the University of Vermont and the cadets at West Point.
But Harvard’s the national champs, so … yeah, the inmates won.
“Students in the prison are held to the exact same standards, levels of rigor and expectation as students on Bard’s main campus,” said Max Kenner, executive director of the Bard Prison Initiative, which operates in six New York prisons. “Those students are serious. They are not condescended to by their faculty.”
According to this story, Harvard’s debaters posted a comment on their Facebook page after the loss.
“There are few teams we are prouder of having lost a debate to than the phenomenally intelligent and articulate team we faced this weekend,” they wrote. “And we are incredibly thankful to Bard and the Eastern New York Correctional Facility for the work they do and for organizing this event.”
Look what can happen. Education is the silver bullet for so many things, and can lead to so much. A bunch of prisoners just out-smarted kids from Harvard.
**Next up, once again Steve Hartman and “CBS Sunday Morning” put out a story so sweet it forces me to include it here. Ethel Weiss is 101 years old and lives in Brookline, Mass.
For the past 76 years, she has owned Irving’s Candy and Toy Store, right around the corner from a school. And long after most people her age have retired, Ethel is still going strong, running the store by herself.
Her best customers are the kids in the neighborhood, who are fiercely loyal to Ethel. Just look at how sweet these kids are when they talk about her.
“Nothing can compare to her and that candy shop,” one boy says.
**And finally, it’s hockey season, which is enough to get me excited normally. But this year the NHL is experimenting with something new and radical and awesome: They’re going to play overtime with just three skaters aside.
Which should lead to fantastic scoring chances, beautiful displays of skill, and utter chaos all over the ice. How will the players change lines? Are we going to see lots of breakaways? Will goalies stand a chance?
No one knows. Whatever happens, it’ll be exciting if you love the sport like I do, and it should be thrilling for everyone in the arena.
Thursday night we had the first regular season 3-on-3 OT, and this happened (above).
3-on-3 OT will make the best sport in the world even better. And that’s good news.