Best of 2020: ‘Be Nice’

Fourth grade is usually when students start really learning the mechanics of writing, but it’s no surprise that one particular fourth grader took to writing like it was genetic.

Because, well, it was. John Erickson, who is the son of deputy editor Bethany Erickson, wrote his first piece for People Newspapers this fall – an opinion piece pleading for empathy when it comes to mask wearing.

“John, as a retired 4th grade teacher I would like you to know that I enjoyed reading your paper,” reader Connie McClain Brooks commented. “Your paper was very well written, and the content is exactly what many people need to hear right now. Thank you for taking the time to remind people that children have thoughts and feelings about wearing masks to prevent the spread of Covid. I wish that more adults out there had the unselfish and caring attitude that you displayed in your paper. If you were my student, I would have given your paper an ‘A+.’Keep writing, John, you have a natural talent to share with others.”

Not only was the story one of the nominations for reader’s choice in our Best of 2020, but both People Newspapers publisher Pat Martin and Gillea Allison, president of D Magazine Partners, also chose it as their pick.

“As our fearless reporter Bethany put the pen in her fourth-grade son’s hands this year, he shared candid and clear-eyed takes on living through a pandemic,” Allison said. “This one spoke to me so powerfully, as kids have a way of cutting through the clutter of our adult minds and individualism.”

“From the mouths of babes, witty but to the point,” Martin said.

Read his piece here.

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