Age and maturity do not necessarily go hand in hand. A lot of times - a whole lot of times in fact - young people react to a changing world much better than their parents, grandparents and the people who are supposed to be in charge do.
While society still fitfully grapples with issues like diversity, same-sex marriage and the fact that selfies are indeed a form of global communication, teenagers usually get it first. They figure out how to get along and look past differences, and make it look like no big deal.
And then roll their eyes with utter ennui until the rest of us reluctantly come dragging along.
Case in point is the OA-BCIG vote against consolidation the other day.
After eight years, some of the adults still don't get it. They are worried about things like percentages of representation on boards and who has more control of what, when the kids can see what matters. The school works.
After Odebolt-Arthur voters defeated the proposal to permanently unite the sharing partners - again - the kids had had enough of this foolishness.
They staged a walk-out on the 16th, marching out of school and heading out to the football field where they held their own rally and discussion. It was calm, it was calculated, and it was clear. They want their communities to pay attention. They made their point in a peaceful, respectful, and yet unmistakeable way. School isn't a power tug-of-war to them, it's their life.
As they exited the school, some chanted, "Ask the students! Ask the students!"
And indeed, they should have asked the students. We parents and adults forget that way too often.
For OA-BCIG, the failed vote means the potential of one of the districts pulling out and ruining a solid sharing agreement that dates to 2008.
And that leaves students fed up with their towns' inability to get along as well as the kids do.
"I don't want anyone else to be pulled away from their best friends or that chance to make those memories and to go out and do those things they'll never forget," OA-BCIG student Cole Veltri explains.
"There's a lot of people upset about it and there's a possibility we might not even be together anymore," adds fellow senior Carrie Miller.
If you want to have any chance of young people staying in or returning to their communities one day, you better start paying some attention to what they are telling you.
This stuff isn't new. Consolidation is a fact of life in rural Iowa, where school names are starting to look like a bowl of alphabet soup as half a dozen towns or more lump together in a district, retaining some autonomy rather than having their identity swallowed up by a bigger district.
Students, we know you are frustrated. You should know, though, that this is a painful process for the elders in many a rural community.
Over the years they have seen groceries and gas stations go away, population dwindle. They have to drive to the bigger town for more and more of the basic needs. Aside from the churches and maybe a park or a small industry, a school may seem to them like the last big thing holding the place together. And its hard letting go of that.
It's not easy for longtime residents to see students getting on a bus to be taken to someone else's town, and giving up a share of the decision-making power over the education of their young people.
It's not easy not knowing where all this is going to go down the road - what districts are going to remain viable, and if they don't, which direction to go in finding another partner. No one wants to make the wrong choice, chance being left the odd man out. In trying to do right for our town first, we can lose sight of a bigger picture.
And adults should know that its not easy being a teenager, either. What you love to do, who you love to be around, your very identity, is in large part tied up with your school, and not knowing if it is still going to be around when you graduate puts young people on shaky ground.
We've been through some of this with every school merger in our area. One town is gung-ho, one not so much, one wants a forever consolidation, another to hold back and see what the future brings. Everyone wants to cut the best deal to keep at least one level of school in their town, to have some events and games held on their turf.
Understandable, but we can't forget in all of that to think about what works for our kids.
Alta and Aurelia wrestled it out for years, on-again, off-again, bruised egos and controversies. Then they realized that even when the boards - the adult leaders of the communities - couldn't get along, the kids did.
Adults staged the meetings and cut the negotiations and signed off on the papers, but make no mistake - the students made sharing work.
They care about friendships, teams, having good teachers and extra-curriculars - they don't care where a make-believe boundary is drawn, or which town has the most seats on a school board.
For Alta-Aurelia, and Newell-Fonda, and Sioux Central, and Ridge View, and other districts in the area, sharing and consolidations have worked beautifully. If anyone regrets those partnerships, I'm not hearing them say so.
In each case, students get along great, and the schools have achieved wonderful things that all of their member communities can be proud of.
Sharing and consolidations have allowed local schools to survive and flourish, with more learning resources than kids ever could have had if towns had clung to an aging, dying hometown building until the selfish, bitter end.
Is a school district working? How the heck should I know? How should any of us really know - if we're not there every day. Go ask the kids, and the teachers, and coaches, they know. Look at the budget and enrollment and test scores and all that, but look hardest at your kids. Are they being well served, and are they enjoying, their experience? To they feel part of their school?
If the answer is yes, better put the egos aside and work together to make that shared district all it can be.
About 150 kids at OA-BCIG made their feelings plain, and good for them. Maybe we could learn a thing or two from that.
It's time now for the grown ups to grow up.