For the past few months, Joshua Oggelsby has been working here in the Summerland Review, writing stories, taking pictures, doing some research and contributing ideas.
He’s polite, well-mannered, respectful, and he has a solid work ethic.
He is a Grade 12 student at Summerland Secondary School, working at the paper a few hours each week on a work experience program.
Because of his age, he qualifies as a Millennial, a label too often used to berate or belittle those in his age demographic.
Millennials are the generation born between the early 1980s and early 2000s, today ranging in age from their late teens to their 30s.
This generation has grown up in a world with online access, celebrity culture and the rise of social media influencers.
It’s not the same as the world their parents and grandparents knew.
Millennials are sometimes depicted by older generations as lazy, entitled and completely unprepared for adulthood.
And, if one looks around, it’s possible to find some in this demographic who fit the stereotype.
But the broad-brush generalizations do not answer an important question.
If this young generation is flawed, then how does one explain Oggelsby and others like him?
The easy answer is to say that he is an exception to the rule, one of a very few hard working young people.
But if he’s an exception, he’s not the only one.
Last year, Kaitlyn Nightingale, in Grade 12 at the time, also was at the paper, and the year before, Parker Karnish was at the Summerland Review.
Each of the three work experience students exceeded expectations.
They were punctual, enthusiastic, disciplined and eager to learn. By the time their term was over, their work was close to that of a starting journalist.
Not one was lazy. Not one expected or demanded special treatment. I’d be willing to vouch for any of them if they need a reference.
These are not the only outstanding Millennials I’ve met.
Each year, I see high school students who have excelled in academics, sports or community service.
There are students and recent graduates who are considered assets at their workplaces.
Some are already conducting themselves to take positions of community leadership in the future.
Why then are the Millennials receiving such harsh criticisms, often from those in my age demographic and older?
It doesn’t make sense.
Those who are part of the Generation X demographic, born between the mid-1960s and the early 1980s, can remember hearing criticisms of their generation back in the 1990s.
In the 1970s, Baby Boomers — those born between the mid-1940s and the mid-1960s — were criticized for the way they looked, dressed and acted, and also for their tastes in music and entertainment.
Why would either of those generations want to give the Millennials the same treatment?
It’s possible to find studies to suggest Millennials are worse than any previous generation.But those studies do not necessarily tell the whole story.
The generalizations that all or even most in this age group are lazy people who want special privileges doesn’t come close to describing the Millennials I’ve had the privilege to know.
In a little more than a week, our Grade 12 students — Millennials — will receive their high school diplomas and begin the next stage in their lives, with new challenges and new opportunities.
Saddling them with stereotypes because of their age demographics is an added burden they do not need.
John Arendt is the editor of the Summerland Review.