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.


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.