When thinking of Valparaiso, which of the following things comes to mind: the Popcorn Fest, Central Park Plaza, Valparaiso University or something else entirely?
Valparaiso always has been and will continue to be a hub of intellectual, social and commercial cultivation. However, something entirely different often arises in the minds of the youth of Valpo. If you were to take a stroll in the high school on a Friday night, a few familiar phrases would quickly begin to stick out to you. Disdain regarding how “boring” Valpo is, how little there is to do, or how Valpo simply is a terrible place full of irreconcilable individuals would be the status quo.
Teenagers are furiously relentless to propagate this poison into the vascular system of Valparaiso. To everyone out there that “hates” Valpo, to everyone who loathes its inhabitants and to everyone who sees Valpo as an apathetic community of nothing, to put it politely, please reconsider your views.
Coming from a small suburb of Pittsburgh, Valpo was a completely different ballgame with radically different individuals for me. At its very facade you could easily mistake the community as your typical Midwestern town; quiet and containing little character. You will be hard pressed to discover a community such as Valpo that epitomizes support, compassion, and (sorry for the cliché) the American dream. After recently planning a charity event in Valparaiso (www.mybr5k.org) I have been humbled with the reminder of these facts (donations from 20-plus businesses). The generosity we encountered was unprecedented and made for a greatly successful event.
Furthermore, the leadership in Valpo deters apathy and instigates change for the better in all of the lives of its citizens. Considering the newly constructed Central Park Plaza, the beatification of Lincolnway and the County Seat commercial areas, or even just the general attitude of hope and stability, Mayor Jon Costas and his staff are building the community of Valpo.
So, the youth of Valparaiso, before you once again say ill of Valparaiso, remember all of the opportunities that it presents to you in terms of social, economic and political opportunity. Whatever dream you may have, Valparaiso will provide you with the tools to achieve it. No, Valparaiso does not offer the same social entertainment as a metropolis, but for a town of 30,000 people, it does not do too bad. Thank you, Valparaiso, for an upbringing that has and will benefit me for years to come. Continue along this road, and the precipice of strife and turmoil will remain at bay.
C.J. Skok, of Valparaiso, is a student at Indiana University in Bloomington. The opinion expressed in this column is the writer's and not necessarily that of The Times.