Thursday, December 30, 2010

December Response--Jake Mather

“Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it.”

“Magic is believing in yourself, if you can do that, you can make anything happen.”

-Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

When the Wake Up! coalition began, a group of like-minded individuals, young and old, created both forms of Goethe’s magic. A bold move by young adults for believing in themselves that Wake Up! will make a difference, that Wake Up! will make magic. And after sitting in the Wake Up! meeting on December 29, 2010, I believe that anyone present noticed magic was in the air. The magic that permeates this project is powerful because the chemistry between everyone involved is phenomenal. Every meeting, each individual brings something new to the table for discussion. Every meeting, I never want the experience to end. I am incredibly proud of every person involved. I learn things about my friends that never occurred to me before. We make each other believe that we will become a powerful force in the community. We make each other believe that we will correct the wrongs in our society. We believe in ourselves and in the beginnings of our movement. We are bold, we have motivation. Instead of talking the talk like most teens, we are proud to walk the walk as well. I think that is magic in and of itself.

December Response--Alex Hoopes

I just wanted to take the time to say how proud I am of the Wake Up Coalition teens. I was so impressed with how my peers acted at the meeting. I was nervous that my friends, and the Wake Up teens are some of my best friends, would not take the program seriously. I was so wrong. Yesterday, everyone approached our mission with great maturity and focus. It's amazing to see how passionately each teen wants to help with the issues of sex education, teen pregnancy, and suicide. Jake Mather's monologue was particularly moving. His group managed to write a scene that encapsulated everything a troubled kid would feel about sexual orientation and suicide. I couldn't believe these words were coming from the mouth of a kid I'd known for years as being so funny and goofy. The mood in the room was so powerful. Everyone was so determined to create real change. We were not talking about this program as a dream or something that might happen years from now. The Wake Up Coalition is happening now. I'm so excited for it! I can't stop thinking about how wonderful yesterday was and I remember watching the clock hit 4:00 and not wanting to leave. I could've stayed and talked about the issues for hours. I can't wait to go back and really start putting our words to action. Thanks everyone for making that day really special.

December Response--Michelle Stockwell

So many of us don't seek help because our problems are not big enough. We don't need therapy we say. We are healthy and stable people.Healthy people don't need help. 

This mindset sets us up, especially those of us with raging hormones, for failure. Everyone needs help from time to time. As a society, we need to tell one another that asking for help does not take resources away from people with extreme cases, AND that it is normal. As teens, all we crave is a degree of normalcy. Some of us strive to be unique, but have you noticed those people tend to group together? 

So, how do we make asking for help normal? We start with ourselves, we ask for help and show everyone around us that getting help is okay. That a fight with your parents is just as important to talk about with someone trusted as what we consider "severe" issues.

But wait, you say--if you are a devil's advocate--getting help DOES take recources away from those who need it most. And you would be somewhat right, we know our counselors at school have enough on their plates just with coordinating our class schedules. 

The Wake Up Coalition proposes a solution: we will be there to talk to. We will listen and when necessary refer. We won't tell the world that you came in for help, but if you are proud of getting help, tell for us. Show your friends that it is alright. Let us become the healthiest society we can be.

It starts with you.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

December Meeting Breakdown

I am invigorated today.  Excited.  Thrilled.  There aren't words to express how fantastic the day was.  We met at the Lawrence Arts Center at ten and spent the morning hashing out who we want to be as a group.  Officially, the Wake Up Coalition is a group of like minded teens who, after recognizing a serious lack in accessible, effective, trustworthy outlets for themselves, decided to create a peer mentoring program that would provide a sage, non-judgmental, open environment for young people to discuss and work through their problems.  It's a big task, but I truly believe this is the right group to make it happen.

After figuring out who we are, who we want to help, and how we think we can make that happen, we had two great afternoon sessions with Jamie Johnson McCall (local theatre Jane of all trades and current MA candidate in Drama Therapy at KU), and Christie Dobson (Outreach Coordinator for the Gadugi Safecenter).  Jamie and Christie helped the students envision the relationships that currently exist between themselves (and teens like them) and the adults who are responsible for helping them in times of crisis.  Once we'd finished some great role-playing exercises and discussions, it was time to write.

Students were broken into small groups and wrote scenes or monologues related to the themes we had been discussing each day.   Check back over the next week as I will be posting each of the really powerful, funny, and interesting pieces created by students today.

--Shannon

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Teen Suicide Article Response--Jevan Bremby

I began with the intention to skim through each article to gauge which article I wanted to write a response about. I ended up choosing the one that I had to respond to. Teen Suicide: Helping Surviors Make Sense of Sudden Loss.
 
    As I began the article, I was forced to slow down as I was almost immediately drawn into the story of the little brother whose older brother committed suicide and felt responsible. I, being the youngest of four siblings (I have two sisters and 1 brother), connected to the little brother. He felt feelings that I could understand and relate to. I haven't had a real conversation with my brother in over 5 months. If I were to lose him one day to himself? I can't even fathom the path that I would take. That was the mindset the article put me in. It forced me to place myself in that situation and ask myself, "How would you feel?" and "What would you do?". The article does an amazing job at diagnosing and delineating common emotions that 'survivors' encounter. As I read further into the descriptions of emotions, I, in a way, donned each one, seeing which ones could imagine feeling, basing my conclusions on experiences I've had when faced with news of deaths of family, classmates, and acquaintances. How those experiences affected me, using them to shape the kind of hell that I would most likely subject myself to. I came to the conclusion that Shock, Relief, and Guilt, were the emotions that would poison my mind following such a loss. This was a beautifully written article and it has made me rethink aspects of the relationships in my life... One in particular.
 
This is perhaps the most volatile of the three issues chosen to take on. Undoubtedly, it is the one I fear most of all. Sadly, it seems to get the least amount of attention. Fear of the unknown hinders development. It seems parents fear powerful information thus hindering the development of the students(as demonstrated by the lack of legitimate Sex Education). How will we secure ourselves in times of crisis, if we are taught to operate under the fallacy of universal contentedness and turn our head to the dangers of depression?

Saturday, December 18, 2010

A Coalition is Born

These are just a few pictures of the amazing members of what we are now calling the Wake Up Coalition.


More on the progress of the group soon :)


Sally Spurgeon & Jack Garvin 

Mary Claire Carter, Leslie Cunningham, Stephanie Gage, Jordan Gahes, Eric Palmquist & Anna Balmilero

Jevan Bremby, Matt Rood, & Lauren Fleming

Nina Kizer, Jake Mather, Carter, Cunningham, Gage, Gaches, Palmquist, Balmilero, Bremby, Rood, & Fleming

Jake Leet & Alex Hoopes

Student Response--Jordan Gaches

Are you sixteen and pregnant?  

As ridiculous and dramatic the hit MTV series may be, pregnancy is a harsh reality for almost a third of American teenage girls.  I was shocked at the statistics: the United States has the highest teen pregnancy rate in the western industrialized world?!  I see "those girls" every day in school, yet until this year I wasn't fully aware of the situation.  

I'll confess;  when I first found out one of the girls in my sophomore orientation group was pregnant, my initial response was, "Crap! I still need to learn all my sophomores' names and now I have a fetus to keep track of!".  Then I started thinking, "How does she do it?  Starting high school is terrifying enough as it is...how does being a parent at fifteen work into the mix?".  Education is the best form of birth control; hopefully with "Wake Up" I can spread as much of it as possible.  

Monday, December 13, 2010

Student Response: One in Ten--Nina Keizer

A Response to “One Teenager in Ten” about sex education.

            I don't know if I should call it an article, maybe it's more of an editorial, like in the 'Op-Ed' section of the newyorktimes.com. Proper genre aside, this piece of writing has enlightened me in ways I was not prepared for. For one it specifically addressed education about homosexuality as sex education, which is something I had never really thought about before. When I thought of sex-ed, I thought of addressing the subject of actually doing it, you know, vagina's, penis', condoms, STD's (or I guess, STI's), not sexuality. Now that I actually think of it sexuality has a lot to do with sex, which sounds really stupid of me, but it's just one of those things that don't automatically come to mind. Maybe it's because people are overwhelmingly bombarded with the traditional image of a sexually active couple, that is, a man and a woman, or maybe because on the bare level whether it's hetero or homo, the same risks (except pregnancy) apply, but either way sexuality is not brought up. And really it's not brought up anywhere, maybe once or twice in social studies, but the subject is never fully addressed and I guess children are never fully informed. I think that's a problem, this may not be 1985, but the situation about sexual orientation still isn't where it should be. Everything I know about homosexuality has either been from the media, mainly television (which is never completely reliable), and from experiences through organizations in no way affiliated with school, mainly SYT. This article definitely brought to light a side of sex-ed which I had never considered, and I hope in the near futue will be addressed.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Teen Pregnancy Article Response: Leslie Cunningham

As one walks through the halls of Free State High School, they are greeted with a plethora of activity. Students meander around their lockers, waiting for class to begin. A few lanky basketball speak animatedly about their upcoming home game, and a gaggle of sophomores girls giggle excitedly about the winter formal that is just around the corner. In high school many of us live in our own little bubble of happiness. The most we ever  contemplate worrying about is grades, whether or not we’ll play a good game, or if anyone will be wearing the same dress as us at the school dance. However, if the statistics at pregnantteenhelp.org hold any truth than for some, their happiness bubble will be abruptly be popped and for many it already has. 

There are girls at Free State and all over the country who are pregnant teens. I’ve seen them as they head to class, laughing and smiling just like everyone else, but I can’t help but imagine how much their lives have changed and everything they have had to give up. True, the teen pregnancy rate has declined over the past years but American still has an obscenely high rate of 33%. If said rate truly is so high then I believe it means we’re not doing enough. I find it tragic that 1/3 of all girls are being forced to surrender their youth and teenager years due to the fact that they are pregnant. Being in such a position is unfathomable to me. I could swear up and down that something like teen pregnancy would never happen to me but I am positive that many young women who found themselves pregnant and in high school said the same thing. This alone proves that there is a problem with American and our Sexual Education programs and that a remedy for this epidemic is badly needed.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Second Meeting Student Response--Jake Mather

Teenagers are nuttier than squirrel poop.

On one hand, you have a group of society than is the next generation, one that will soon be off to college with a backpack full of books, stories and social skills.

On the other hand, those social skills are awful. Social “networking” websites have become the platform for wannabe Mean Girls (guys included).

I caved in and got a Facebook during my freshman year of high school. I got into the game fairly late and I prided myself for holding out. It made sense for academics and for my social life. My preferred mode of procrastination moved from solitaire to Facebook. I was moving up in the world. Hot dog! Sure the occasional mean thing was dropped in my Honesty Box, since deleted, but I let it roll off my back. I was a laid back person who enjoyed real world drama and not cyber drama. I moved into LHS the following year comfortable with who I was and who I hung around with.

Sophomore year was eye opening. As if puberty is difficult enough to deal with, the hallways were full of mature things: pregnant students, PDA and slurs. It wasn’t that bad looking back, but at the time it was overwhelming. Sadly, it was also only a taste of what was to come. Oh, how my world changed during my junior year.

I am a snarky person by nature. It is my source of humor, anger and indifference. However, just because I make a sarcastic comment every five seconds that will make you pee your pants, doesn’t mean I am without emotions, sensitivity and caring thought.

Junior year hit with a hurricane of uncertainty. I had my first steady girlfriend, which was a pleasant surprise. I don’t wear my emotions on my sleeve, and as such I didn’t scatter my PDA around the hallways like roaches. I figured LHS had enough of that as is. But deep down inside I feared myself. I was uncertain if I was on the right path. I doubted myself. I knew I was lazy. I knew I hung around a different group of friends from sophomore year. They had… “Character”, as I now like to say. My personal life was a crapshoot and my inner core was shaken.

My girlfriend and I broke up. I was happy to be single. Yet the feelings emerged again. I doubted myself and wondered if I was on the right path. I walked the hallways feeling alone, envying those younger and older, those who were willing to put themselves out there. In front of the slurs. In front of the homophobes. In front of those silly teenagers they called their peers. So I figured out my own medicine that fit my style. Every time I heard someone drop the G-bomb. I would butt in and say, “Oh, you mean round?” You see, the average teenager’s mind thinks about sexuality as straight and gay. But the opposite of straight isn’t gay, its round. I thought I was clever. Other people stared, looked confused and promptly said. “…Gay.”

Well that was awesome. And so my junior year faded away. The following summer, last summer, came to be my defining moment. It was full of tragedy and personal growth, but most importantly, I became comfortable with who I was.
I caved again in September and got a Twitter. 140 words or less. This is a great idea. Not enough room for insults, or so I thought. The G-bomb appeared and each time it did, I thought of my summer. The offenders of such vile language got a laugh, I got the tissues. Everyone thought it was funny, I thought it was round. I was different. Cool. Life goes on.

Mistakes eat at me; I have always tried to make people happy. I would lie to them so they would be jolly. Like a politician. That fell by the wayside during the summer. I didn’t like who I was trying to be so I changed. I have every reason to be happy. I am going to college; I am going to do what I want to do. So what if I irritated a few people along the way. I knew it wasn’t that smart, but I wanted to please myself and not others. The G-bomb disappeared, but other tweets implying the same massage creeped in. Then one was directed at me.

I tried to let it roll off my back, I honestly tried. But I was angry, and sad, and feeling horribly alone. But I remembered where I had been. I can’t change my attitude or who I am to please others. I know that the G-bomb is going to disappear, but sadly the message will not thanks to insensitive teenagers. But since my freshman year I have learned three crucial lessons thanks to social networking: Mean Girls wasn’t just a movie, teenagers are lunatics, and nothing can ever happen to you if you know who you are and take pride in that.


Article Response--Anonymous

To be honest while I can't really relate to the author of One Teen out of Ten seeing as how I am neither gay, nor have much experience with bullying, I do however think that the author is right in saying that homosexuality should be talked about in sex education. My first experience with what actual homosexual sex is came from a fanfiction web site that I write stories for, and I can't help but wonder what it would be like if that was how teenagers first learned about heterosexual sex. I have no idea if having homosexuality talked about in sex education would help prevent bullying or not, but I do think that would give teenagers a better understanding of what it means to be gay. I also feel that it would help to acknowledge the fact that there are gay students in school. I feel that for the most part homosexuality is somewhat passed over by teachers, like it doesn't happen, or isn't something acceptable to talk about in a classroom.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Mental Health Article Response: Megan Brock

The teen suicide article was interesting. Go here to read it: Teen Suicide

Teen suicide to me has always been focused on this case or that case of a teenager either suffering from depression or family/personal problems. I guess every time someone brings it up, the first thing I think is about the person who committed suicide. I've never really thought about what it would do to the people close to them. Reading that "suicide survivors" often committed suicide themselves was a dark irony I never really thought about before. I haven't had anyone close to me commit suicide so I can't speak for my own experiences but I do know that death, in whatever form, is a powerful thing.  If I were a suicide survivor I would definitely be emotionally unbalanced and even though it hasn't happened to me, I can sympathize with people who have. Suicide seems like a chain reaction, and I think that if more people looked into it and learned about it, we could break that chain. 

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Meeting 2, Student Response--Anna Balmilero

Honestly, I had no idea what to expect when agreeing to participate in this project. Talking about sex education, teen pregnancy, and suicide are heavy matters to discuss, whether you are comfortable about the material or not. Attending the meeting just made me realize the lack of education students in my generation are recieving on the above matters and what an important role they play in our lives, now and in the future. Don't we have the right to learn about subjects that affect our daily lives and our futures? Also, a problem facing students now when pregnancy, suicide, and sex education is presented to them educators usually  push the matters aside and do not fully explain the effects of before AND after. Just being able to attend the Spring Awakening session and discuss with other intelligent individuals made me realize the need for better education and discussion about sex education, teen pregnancy, and suicide and for teens to be able to be respected enough by adults to be given ALL of the information, not just a short blurb on the subject. I am quite excited to be involved and help make decisions that will change the way we learn about these subjects. All I want is to be able to REALLY talk about the themes in Spring Awakening, and get REAL answers from the people around me.

Scarleteen Article Response: Anonymous

Go Read This 
 
In reality, the article speaks for itself, and outlines high school without any help, but for the purposes of our project, I'll do my best to add something.  Only two sentences talk about the pain and tears and inner struggle the writer faced during high school, the rest is about how he overcame it.  The bullying he faced he saw as comedic, as in cruel jokes were being made about him.  He eventually found a defense:  fight comedy with comedy.  He used what his enemies had against them and turned it back toward him.  This becomes the necessity for any highschooler to survive. Find some strange means of defense.  You also have to overcome miseducation.  Changing people's minds can be excessively hard, but their biases are often created with no merit.  Everyone has to find thier own way to make their situation better, but any form of encouragement and kindness can help.

Beliefs

The second meeting of what is now being deemed the "Wake Up Coalition" was held on Sunday, 11/21.  We added some new faces and goals to our project, and began to speak in earnest about the issues facing teenagers today.

At this session, I was once again impressed by the energy and spark that permeates this group.  These young people are passionate not only about theatre and creating art, but also about giving something back to a community that has nurtured them as people and as artists.  These are just a few of the things they shared with me:

They believe it is the responsibility of school counselors to counsel students, not just to set class schedules.  They believe teenagers will be kind to one another if they are shown kindness as an example.
They believe the adults in their lives need to accept that they [teens] have know more about sex, alcohol, and drugs than their parents did at their age.
They believe the key to changing attitudes and actions lies in education.
They believe in an open and honest discourse between teens and adults.
They believe many adults fear that same discourse.
They believe in helping one another through rough transitions, but don't feel they have been empowered to offer any real and meaningful assistance to their peers.
They believe their generation can be reached, and they want to be a part of that movement.

Over the course of the next few months, we will be meeting with local drama therapists as well as representatives from the Ga Du Gi Safecenter  to develop outreach tools and learn coping techniques that the students can then share with their peers.  The members of the Wake Up Coalition hope to help their friends, their parents, their teachers, administrators, and communities at large wake up to the very real problems that impact the lives of teens.  To that end, they hope to plan and implement an 8th grade transition day that incorporates peer mentoring with relevant information for students transitioning to a new school and new social structure during a critical period of adolescence.

I am, as always, proud and humbled to be able to work with these students, and I look forward to sharing their responses to some articles they've been reading related to teen suicide, bullying, and teen pregancy.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Fisrt Meeting Student Response--Jordan Gaches

ad·o·les·cence noun \ˌa-də-ˈle-sən(t)s\

Definition of ADOLESCENCE
1: the state or process of growing up
2: the period of life from puberty to maturity terminating legally at the age of majority
3: a stage of development (as of a language or culture) prior to maturity


Let me flat out say it: being a teenager can suck.  Growing up can suck. But hey, life isn't  a walk in the park for anyone, no matter their age.  It has its natural highs and lows, and it's up to the living to decide how to respond to it. 

When people are not equipped with the right tools to face life's challenges, disaster and tragedy occur.  The consequences of not educating the youth of society about life, love, sex, and puberty are explored in "Spring Awakening."  Some people may dismiss the play as not being relevant to todays teenagers, "Of course I know what sex is!  If I got pregnant, I wouldn't be as clueless as some of the naive characters in this show.  How dumb can you get: your father beats you every night, but you don't tell anyone that could help?!"  I'm here to say that "Spring Awakening's" central concept  about the importance of education in all aspects of life is still vitally important to teens of today.  Yes, almost all American teenagers receive some form of sex education today, but there are certain important questions that don't get answered by these classes. 

What do you do if you get pregnant?  So much emphases is placed on avoiding pregnancy that the idea of some wicked girl deciding to have sex, getting pregnant, and not knowing what to do seems unmentionable. 

Also, educating teens about suicide is literally a life or death matter.  What do you do if you or someone you know is depressed, hurting themselves, and wants to take their own life?  I feel passionate about telling the world how important education is, either through acting on stage, or directly talking to my peers.  I am excited to be a part of this group and to help spread the truth. 

Sunday, October 24, 2010

First Meeting Student Response--Anonymous

Back in August, the arts center did a staged reading of Spring Awakening.  I had read the play the spring before and thought it was a beautiful masterpiece.  When I saw it performed, I was rather annoyed by the play.  It depicts the teenage plight too accurately.  Although students are slightly better educated in today’s society, than in sheltered Germany of 1890, the way life works is essentially the same.  Basically, Spring Awakening is depressing, but it gets some very important points across.  Teenagers need good information.  We are not kids, we are not going to act like kids, and although we are not adults, we need to be given more information so we can handle ourselves more maturely.  Communication between everyone helps spread knowledge and makes people happier.  A sense of belonging comes from the people who care about you, so everyone needs to know that people in their lives care.  That brings up another strong point in Spring Awakening: it demonstrates that everyone goes through the same big picture struggles.  It can spread a sense of understanding between witnesses of its story.  Talking to the other students working on this project, we discovered that we all feel the same way about life.  The harsh reality of Spring Awakening can help us spread information and reach out to form a community of people who can support each other through what seems to be a cruel point of growing up.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

First Meeting Student Response--Madi Brunkan

TALK

You know how there are always those topics that you never bring up at family gatherings or get-togethers with opinionated friends? The taboos that always bring on a debate? 

Let’s talk taboos and debates. Debates over Sex- education (or lack thereof) leading to teen pregnancy, which is practically taboo. And what else is taboo? Suicide and its causes. No one likes addressing the fact that teen pregnancy and suicide rates are growing.  Lately, many children have committed suicide due to being bullied because they were gay. The “It Gets Better” campaign is great because people are trying to address the problem and make sure it doesn’t happen again, but it shouldn’t take teenagers dying for their voices to be heard. 

But, they don’t always speak up. It is an issue that can be debated in circles for hours, but it does need to be addressed, and that is what we are doing in this project. Next is sex-education, some believe in abstinence, while some believe that that is the wrong approach--it's yet another debate--but in this case, it would not be as much of a debate if it weren’t for the problem of the increasing rate of teen pregnancy. Teen pregnancy is an issue that can be seen in a school’s hallways. Sometimes there is a pattern, sometimes not with the teen mothers. In some cases they want a baby and feel like they are ready, or in other cases they just didn’t use a condom. Some cases are caused by lack of information, others lack of judgment. It is wrong to say that lack of sex-education is the main reason for teen pregnancy. In modern times, by high school (at least at mine), most kids know some way or another how sex works. In "Spring Awakening," that isn’t the case. 

Which leads to the problem of curiosity. If kids don’t have an education, like ancient times, they try to figure out what they want to know from other sources, not knowing whether it is correct or not. All of these things need to be talked and thought out by the population. Maybe not at family dinner with your crazy grandparents, but TALK somehow. Because if everyone talks, the opinions and experiences we hear could create a solution, or at the very least  grant more knowledge. So please, TALK!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

First Meeting Student Response--Anonymous

"I want to kill myself."

"I wish I were dead."

What do I say? What can I possibly say or do to stop them from feeling like this? Nothing scares me more than these words. I just wish I knew what to do. Do nothing? Then what if they go through with it? I would carry that guilt for the rest of my life. Tell an adult? What if the adults in this person's life are what caused these feelings? What if that only makes matters worse? I haven't been through what they've been through. How can I possibly know what they're feeling right now? Of course I'm going to be there for them as much as I can. Yes, I'm going to do all in my power to show them that their life, and life itself matters. But no matter what, these words keep coming back. I feel helpless, lost, guilty and afraid. I just want to help them. What can I do?

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

First Meeting Student Response--Anonymous

            Stereotypes are present in all walks of life. For example, you can see a cheerleader and automatically assume they are popular, “emo” kids are “weird”, and nerds have few friends. Pop culture and the media occasionally further these stereotypes unknowingly. However, these stereotypes are personally broken by experiences. One important stereotype that needs to be broken is the issue of teenagers committing suicide or that prevention is the only necessary area of emphasis.
            The prevailing myth is that all of these victims fall through the cracks; nothing could be further from the truth. People hear the stories and think, “she was a loner” or “he never connected with anyone” but when you know people who have attempted or committed suicide or you yourself have been down the path, your perspective changes radically.
            Your friend appears normal in everyday life, he is bubbly and everyone knows he is funny and charming. But he is hiding a secret; he has created a façade to hide his horrible secret. He feels that though he has friends, he can’t trust anyone to keep his secrets. His family life has been turned upside down by circumstances beyond his control. Rumors spread around school about his social life. He enters a state of withdrawal.
            The mindset of the victim changes, and when he finally decides to reach out to a friend he has made up his mind. The friend has no idea what to do, he was sworn to secrecy. Furthermore, he doesn’t feel comfortable talking to his English teacher or Math teacher. The situation could be compounded if the student was in the middle of summer vacation. The friend tells no one. The victim commits suicide.
            But, an email was sent to the friend 45 minutes prior to death. The friend could not act. But, nobody told the friend how to cope; it was only what to do if suicidal. No focus was placed on how to deal with survivor’s guilt. The only emphasis was placed on prevention. More emphasis needs to be placed on the aftermath of a suicide. Yes it affects people around us, but how do they get the help they need. It’s something I struggle with three months later.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

First Meeting Student Response--Babs Boswell

“The truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it.” –Flannery O’Connor.
As human beings we tend to ignore things that make us sad, or upset or even things that just cause us to think. It’s just in our nature to think things are one way when the truth is not pleasing. We can’t ignore the truth; not now, not ever. I’m here to say that the issues of teen pregnancy, sex education and suicide are three huge truths that we should not ignore. These issues are ones that plague America and as a teenager affect me regularly. I don’t want to just sit around and let misinformation and sadness happen all around me. I can’t do that. Quite honestly it’s painful to see on the news that another teenager has committed suicide because of some sort of pressure or misfortune. Or in the hallway at school on Monday morning to hear about that girl who found out she was pregnant this weekend because her boyfriend that “loves her” was too naïve to use a condom. If I have any say my generation is going to be different, we will be educated and know that there’s always someone there to help us through. These are harsh truths that have been stifled for too long. It’s time for us to realize that the truth is there and we must stomach it in order to change it, not ignore it.

Service Learning Project

Thanks to an incredible grant from the Kansas Volunteer Commission, today the Lawrence Arts Center began a wonderful journey.  Over the next eight months, a core group of enthusiastic, intelligent, thoughtful students from across the Lawrence area will engage in discussions, community service projects, and talk back sessions with other teens about themes within the 19th century German expressionist play "Spring Awakening".  After exploring these themes and working to make their voices heard--and hopefully effecting a little change along the way--we will raise a full production of the play in May.

I will wear many hats over the next eight months.  As the Outreach Director for the project, I will be coordinating the community service hours, proctoring the discussions, monitoring the blog, and directing the production in the spring.  As a teacher in the USD 497 school district, I will be looking for ways to incorporate more voices into the discussion and to make the voices heard of those involved.  And, finally, as a human being, I will be impressed and honored every day to work with such talented, reflective, and impassioned young people.  

We had our first meeting today and, while many of the students involved could not attend this first session, those who did were excited, insightful, and committed to bringing a message of hope, empowerment, and universality to the world related to teen issues.  The themes we've chosen to focus on for this project--all of which feature prominently in Spring Awakening--are Teen Pregnancy, Sex Education, and Teen Suicide.  Over the next week, this blog will feature reactions from those who attended today's session, some named and some anonymously should the writer wish to address issues s/he is not quite ready to have his/her name attached to.

Please check back frequently to hear more about what we're doing, and feel free to comment if something sparks your interest.

--Shannon Draper