We interrupt the gloom for some good news

Sherri Gardner HowellFarragut, Kitchen Table Talk

Out of my 65 turns around the sun, I have now been associated – in some form or fashion – with the newspaper business for 43 of those years.

Wow. That’s a lot of ink in the blood.

Granted, my newspaper life has been all over the board and never the “press card in the hat” beat reporter of black-and-white-film days. I have written everything from personality profiles to engagement and wedding stories to horrific child-abuse news stories.

I have been a writer, columnist, beat reporter, photographer, middle-management editor and publisher. The most consistent job in my newspaper life – the one I continue today with Kitchen Table Talk – has been as a columnist.

I have always found so much good news amongst the bad, so many acts of kindness woven in with the evil that – although I am prone to sarcasm – I am not pessimistic or jaded, traits often used to describe journalists.

Today, to honor the month in which I started my journalism career in 1976, I want to share some of the good news I have seen in the past few weeks. There is, and always will be, much to moan about in our world. Let’s hope there will also always be a brighter side to celebrate as well.

From my friend Stefan Cooper came the tip to read the story of billionaire Robert Smith, who announced a surprise gift in his commencement speech at Morehouse College in Atlanta. Smith, who did not attend Morehouse, announced from the podium that he was pledging to pay off each graduate’s student loans.

There are 400 graduates in the class of 2019, and estimates say the price tag for Smith could be $40 million. One graduate summed it up nicely: “This is life changing.”

The only condition Smith announced was that the graduates “pay it forward.”

An 11-year-old girl living in New Zealand is a child after my heart. Victoria, who loves the television show “Stranger Things” and, apparently, dragons, wrote a letter to the New Zealand prime minister, demanding that the government spend some of its money on researching the existence of dragons.

In addition, Victoria asked that government researchers teach her how to become telekinetic so she could train a dragon of her own.

She included a $5 bill to make sure she was taken seriously.

PM Jacinda Ardern responded, returning Victoria’s money. She wrote: “We were very interested to hear your suggestions about psychics and dragons, but unfortunately we are not currently doing any work in either of these areas! I am therefore returning your bribe money, and I wish you all the very best in your quest for telekinesis, telepathy, and dragons.”

In a handwritten postscript at the end, Ardern wrote: “P.S. I’ll still keep an eye out for those dragons. Do they wear suits??”

A little closer to home in Memphis, the valedictorian at Raleigh Egypt High School received more than $3 million in college scholarships.

The twist? Tupac Moseley spent part of his high school years homeless. His father died in April 2017, and his family lost their home. An organization called For The Kingdom stepped in at some point later and provided a cabin for his family on land where they hold camping experiences for city kids. Moseley said a strong support system and a family he bonded with at the school helped keep him focused.

He has chosen Tennessee State University in Nashville, where he got a full-ride scholarship to study electrical engineering, beginning in the fall. To bridge the gap, TSU President Glenda Glover made arrangements for Moseley to move into his dorm now and covered his meals for the summer.

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