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ISSN: 1936-0479


2015-2016 Rural Voices Youth Contest - Second Place Entry

About the Contest: The Rural Voices Contest is sponsored by the North Central Regional Planning Commission (NCRPC), Beloit, Kansas. Each year high school seniors in North Central Kansas are invited to prepare an original work based on an assigned theme. The theme for the 2015-2016 contest was "Rural Kansas...My Legacy."

Rural Kansas...My Legacy
By Maura Kennedy
Frankfort High School

Just like the wheat and the trees that grow in my back yard, I too, have grown strong, sturdy roots in this little corner of Marshall County. I was born to parents who were both raised in Frankfort, Kansas, just as their parents were raised in Marshall County. My heart and my home will always be here. Growing up I was told “remember, little eyes are watching.” I was ever aware of that; in a small community like mine, young children look up to the high school students as positive role models. Having a younger sister, this was even more relevant to me. Younger kids watch every move we make and they emulate what they see. I want to leave a legacy for the children of honesty, equality, kindness, compassion and faith. I hope these values will provide me, and countless others, wings to fly away and do great things while remembering our roots.

My parents and grandparents taught me to always be honest, never tell a lie, it always ends badly. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Stand tall. A man cannot ride your back if you stand tall” and to me that means if you have integrity and you do the right thing even when no one is watching, you don’t have anything to worry about! The world is sometimes obsessed with sensational rumors and the latest gossip and it happens in small towns, too. As a teen, I have felt the sting of gossip and I have watched it hurt others. There is an old Irish proverb that says, “What you do not see with your eyes, do not witness with your mouth.” It is sometimes difficult to not participate in the spreading of rumors but I make a conscious effort to do so. If I can keep one younger person from carrying on gossip or being hurt by it; my legacy lives on.

Out here in the rural areas, women and men are equal and work side by side. In high school I was given opportunities to join organizations like Future Farmers of American (FFA) and Family, Career, and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA). These organizations are not divided by gender, they allow anyone the opportunity to learn skills and develop leadership qualities. I have been blessed enough to participate in both organizations and I have held officer positions in both as well. FFA started my love for leadership. I was very involved in my FFA chapter my freshman year. I was able to stay involved in FFA and grow even more in FCCLA in my sophomore, junior and senior years. I was fortunate enough to serve as FCCLA District D President during my junior and senior years. Leading an organization has given me such an insight to working with others and taking charge. I have participated in numerous public speaking competitions and I have learned so much about stage presence and how to be a leader. I hope young girls look up to me and see a strong young woman who has dreams, has set goals and worked to achieve them. I hope young boys recognize that hard work and dedication will get anyone where they want to go.

“Kindness and compassion cost nothing.” Kindness is just a smile or holding the door open for someone. It takes no time or particular effort. I certainly have acquired that quality that from my rural roots, it’s just a natural thing here. With something as simple as saying “hi” waving to a stranger and smiling when someone looks sad, we offer that “moment” to others and it might mean the world to them. Some of the kindest people I know have helped raise me in my small community of Frankfort and I hope someday I will be given the opportunity to do the same for my children. It’s my pleasure as well as my responsibility to pass that on to at least one kid.

Compassion is feeling deep empathy towards all living things. In my small community everyone knows each other and are very quick to offer help when someone is sick or in need. As Mother Teresa said, “If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.” Our community always remembers this during difficult times. When a family member dies, the community joins together to make food for the family, bring in the harvest, feed the livestock and shelter them in their grief. Something as simple as a delivering a stack of paper plates or as valuable as a running a combine and feeding the crew of helpers can be just what a family needs. It just gets done. The kind folks of Frankfort are caring, committed and genuine in the compassion they offer. This legacy was passed to me and I will pass it on.

Finally, faith. In our community faith is at the heart of everything. I attend church every weekend and my faith in God is immoveable, however; faith can be in many seen in many aspects of life. I am so proud when our community has faith in our athletic teams, our academics, our community, our elders and our children. It is astounding what a community of 700 honest, hard working people can accomplish. We have faith in ourselves and in each other. I am a part of this, and I am confident that our next generation will want to be as well.

My legacy is simple but these roots have given me the wings to fly and to do great things. Ralph Waldo Emerson once said: “The task ahead of you is never as great as the power behind you.” I choose to live by this quote and I have faith that the legacy I leave in Frankfort will inspire others to do the same. I hope to leave behind a positive legacy when I go to college; I also plan on taking the heart of my rural community with me wherever I go.

 

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Last Updated February 22, 2016
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