ROLE MODEL: Aislinn Ryan is an incredible runner. Last year she won the national high school cross-country championship. She didn't take time to brag; in fact, she thought her accomplishment wouldn't be of much interest to non-runners. Aislinn was wrong about that.
Ryan walked into school the Monday after the race to find the corridors decked with posters and flyers bearing her photo and a caption: "This girl is the best in the nation." After the race aired on television, the school held a special assembly to show the videotape, and the principal asked Ryan to give a speech about success. Warwick, a bucolic New York town of 32,000 nestled in the hills 55 miles northwest of Manhattan, erected a banner over West Street that read, "Welcome to Warwick, Home of Aislinn Ryan, 2004 national cross-country champion."A culture committed to a vital future would find Aislinn's photo on the covers not only of magazines devoted to health and fitness but teen magazines as well as TIME and Newsweek. Aislinn would be feted as a living, breathing (and sweating) example of what a young person can accomplish when she applies her natural talents and is encouraged by family, friends, and community to achieve extraordinary things. Way to go, Aislinn.