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Posts Tagged ‘High School’

Reddit bans guns sales. YouTube kicks gun fanatics off its site. Florida legislators have raised the age to 21 for buying your first gun, and on and on. Why is this different in our country’s national debate over common sense gun reform? It’s the messengers.

Teenagers have reframed the question; it’s not some esoteric debate about Second Amendment rights, they are simply asking not to be shot in their 5th period Chem class. And if you remember what it felt like to be 16, they actually think they can change the world!

I was 15 when JFK was shot. I was playing field hockey on a grassy high school lot when the milk man stopped to tell our gym teacher what happened; it’s forever embedded in my memory, even though there’s a Walgreens on that site today. We were all in shock, our parents and teachers were grieving. We didn’t see his brother Bobby and MLK’s assassinations in our future.

We didn’t know our generation was about to change the entire American culture with the Civil Rights and Women’s Liberation Movements. We didn’t even know about Vietnam, yet.

We walked out of high school over a dress code.

Today teens are digital natives. And Parkland students are leading the charge on Twitter, Facebook, SnapChat and Instagram to point out hypocrisy in all its many nuanced layers. The latest Associated Press poll tells us 7 out of 10 Americans want stricter gun controls. And look what happened just a few days ago, right after the Bride and her colleagues wrote a certain letter to the editor! http://thehill.com/policy/healthcare/379563-republicans-agree-to-clarify-that-cdc-can-research-gun-violence

Republicans agree to clarify that CDC can research gun violence

And so it begins, your grand daddy’s rifle is NOT the same as an AR-15. #ENOUGH is enough and after tomorrow’s March For Our Lives in DC, I believe the momentum will continue. Country music fans and elementary students didn’t stand a chance. But high school students around the country are weaponizing social media, for the good of us all. If Facebook fueled the Arab Spring, imagine what this will do.

Maybe we should put these kids in charge of the Russian hacking problem? I have no doubt they would tell Putin a thing or two!   image

 

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It’s been a very busy first day of Spring. I took my first Nashville Yoga class after breakfast, and joined a T’ai Chi bunch before lunch! I learned quite a bit, about tuning into my body and tuning out the noise of the city. And this city can be pretty noisy; Great Grandma Ada told me even the NYTimes was writing about the Demolition Blues here in the Music City. Right down the block we’ve had intermittent blasting through limestone that shakes the house, makes me jump, and has Ms Bean running around in terror.

It’s like a war zone, I feel a bad case of PTSD coming on. Between Mr T’s morning rambling via Twitter, and the Federal Trade Commission investigating Facebook (ps here’s how to clean up your account https://www.slashgear.com/facebook-personal-audit-privacy-app-sharing-19523634/) – the random, bomb-like explosions have thrown me over the edge. The whole existential crisis of a possible nuclear showdown pales before the everyday reality of our current climate.

Hence my plan for Zen Tuesdays.

Now for the other six days of the week… While I was saying “Namaste” today, we learned of another school shooting today, this time in Maryland. The 17 year old gunboy is dead, and the girl he targeted is in critical condition. There’s another teen boy who was targeted. Enough is enough. It certainly feels like we’ve reached a tipping point towards gun reform, although I’ve felt that way in the past too. But somehow, this time feels different.

The Tennessean published an opinion piece on Sunday that was co-authored by the Bride and her friend, another Emergency Physician. They are calling on state legislators to repeal the Dickey Amendment which curtails research and funding of gun violence. Oh yes, NRA, we’re coming for you!

It is time to treat gun violence like the public health emergency that it is, and to let the scientific community conduct the necessary work to find solutions.

Unbiased medical research has led to the eradication of smallpox, the dramatic reduction of injuries and death due to motor vehicle collisions, and lifesaving advances in the care of those injured in combat.  

 We can – and should – add the prevention of unnecessary gun-related deaths to this list.     

   

It was signed by 128 TN physicians!! Mostly ER docs who see the results of unfettered access to guns. https://www.tennessean.com/story/opinion/2018/03/15/opinion-gun-violence-national-public-health-emergency/426997002/

Let’s face it y’all, grandpa’s rifle is NOT the same as an AR-15, and even here in the South minds are being changed. The massacre in Las Vegas shook the music industry to its core, and now teenagers are planning a March on Washington to bring their message home. Our children deserve to feel safe in school, freedom from fear is our God-given, Rockwellian right in this country. The police don’t want these guns on the street, and we the people don’t want them either. It’s about time our legislators listened…

I think the explosions have stopped. Our neighborhood has been strangely quiet for a few days now. We managed to plant our lilacs yesterday, and now they are predicting snow. Happy first day of Spring to everyone from our little Irish Star Wars colleen!

IMG_2429

 

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In the run-up last year to our 50th high school reunion, my best friend could not be found.

Her name was JoEllen, and she appeared in 1962 like me, out of the blue. Only instead of going to Sacred Heart Elementary School, she had attended a private school. But in all other ways we connected. We were outliers, outsiders. My step-father was Jewish, and her parents were Jewish. We didn’t wear the typical public school uniform of the day for girls; girdles, stockings, teased hair and make-up.

We didn’t really fit in with any clique, so we made up our own insulated poetic/drama/dweeb club. We sat with some of the kids going on to college in the cafeteria (the Big Chill), and they graciously accepted us. Two strange blondes appearing on the scene, with no other friends. When I started dating Bob, we became full-fledged members. We felt different, and we dressed differently, in kilts, knee socks and Weejuns. In a sea of beautiful 60s era Mad Men Young Women, who were being told to go on to secretarial school, or maybe nursing, including myself with my paltry “B” average, we acted like we didn’t care what others thought.

Of course all teenagers care deeply, but we had each other as a lifeline. We were inseparable, in fact they called us the Bobbsey Twins.

I thought of JoEllen last night after cleaning up the kitchen and running the dishwasher. Bob walked in for some ice cream, and I said, “The kitchen is closed!” This is what her German housekeeper would say to us whenever I slept over at her house. with a thick German accent of course. We would sneak downstairs later, to raid the refrigerator. Her bedroom was beautifully decorated, with twin beds set at an angle so we could talk all night. I had never before seen matching bedspreads and drapes…

Her father was a doctor, and my step-father was a lawyer and a judge. This too set us apart, nobody wanted the daughter of the town judge to go out partying, drinking beer or stirring up trouble.

I remember once we vacationed in Atlantic City with the Flapper and the Judge, and we put on an accent (what kind I can’t recall) and insisted we were really fraternal twins to every new acquaintance and giggled ourselves silly later. We wore bikinis and that was new and risque. It was pre-Borat hilarity! We had FUN together; she exhibited a kind of strength, and confidence I admired. She was the strong one, and I followed her lead, like Zadie Smith in “Swing Time.”

JoEllen grew up wealthy, privileged to a certain degree having traveled the world. I grew up dirt poor, traveling from my foster home in NJ to the Flapper’s house in PA, and finally settling in with my biological family. Still we were a team, an egalitarian brazen duo, we found a safe harbor in each other, we needed each other to navigate the halls of our public high school. No one could touch us, and now, no one could find her.

I’d heard she moved to NYC and became an orthodontist. That was at our ten year reunion, but she didn’t show up that time either. She’s not on Facebook. Bob is a super sleuth with internet search engines, and even he couldn’t find her. Great Grandma Ada knows everyone and everything about the Jewish community in our old town, and even she didn’t know what happened to her parents. It was a great mystery.

When we find ourselves attending Town Halls without our congressmen present it’s unnerving. Tomorrow night’s Correspondent’s Dinner sans Mr T sends another glaring social signal. Sometimes lines cannot be erased, and the divide in our country grows larger. If you can’t bother to show up, you can’t be bothered with us! Didn’t Woody Allen say, “Showing up is 80% of life?”

When I showed a shred of sympathy for the rude treatment Ivanka Trump received in Germany, I was told she is not worthy. Because of who she is, because of her father. It’s US vs THEM and that’s a recipe for war; it’s universal and compelling. And I’m tired of war. When I wrote for a newspaper, I covered both sides of the river. We have a class and a caste system in this country; and we have a profound problem with racism, which is why our democratic pendulum swung from O to T.

The Sacred Heart nuns taught me to respect everyone, it was the catholic way. And the Flapper told me everyone has a story. At least Ivanka showed up. I found this announcement of JoEllen’s wedding in 1971, there is no mention of her graduating our high school. And then she dropped off the end of the earth. http://www.nytimes.com/1971/08/15/archives/joellen-dicker-wed-to-lawyer.html?_r=0

JoEllen Dicker Trench Coat 20170428

 

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Hold the applause and pass the champagne for our little coterie of writers in Cville. This past weekend I attended another writing workshop on Memoir at The Writer House. Our fearless leader, Sharon Harrigan, helped us dig into our past, crystalize our vision and discover a theme that might shape the story of a life. This town is a veritable estuary of literary types, it seems I have found my people!

Although I’m not crazy enough to think my life story gives me the right to run for President, for instance, I wondered if it’s worthy of a book, I thought that delving into my past could help me structure the fictional story I’ve been working on for years based on the life of my Flapper. You see, I didn’t really get to know my biological Mother until I moved in with her at the age of 12, and I never knew my birth Father. He died of a brain tumor when I was seven months old.

I could write a scene about the automobile accident three months later, on July Fourth weekend in 1949, our family’s Year of Living Dangerously, only through the eyes of my sister Kay. It might start like this scene in a drugstore in Scranton, PA:

Robert P. Norman’s name was emblazoned on the door and he was always happy to see us. I’m the oldest, and only girl at home, so I’m the sugar in his coffee. Only lately, Daddy was having trouble moving his left arm, and sometimes he had headaches, headaches that sent him stumbling towards his office in the back. I was heading there to see if he needed me when I heard my name.

She was fourteen at the time and is currently my living archive. She helped our Father pound chemicals into pills in the back of his pharmacy. After the accident, she was in a coma for a month. She had to care for me that summer and her brothers, and eventually the Flapper when she was discharged from the hospital, her dancer’s legs broken in so many places she would never walk normally again.

But first I had to get to know myself better. Sharon had us make a list of our quirks, which was a fun exercise and kept me busy jotting down things like:

  • “I need to keep my hair short, or I’ll twirl it all the time;”
  • “Small talk is painful, but I’m told I’m good at it;”
  • “Sleep will sometimes elude me for no particular reason;”
  • “I stop for stray dogs.”

I was getting discouraged, my quirks didn’t seem quirky enough. Then someone said we should ask a friend or family member to list our quirks. Genius!

“You have to load the dishwasher a certain way,” Bob said. Now that is true, and it did show up at the end of my list. I’ve even been known to return to a dishwasher only to reload it, if someone else was kind enough to “help” with the dishes.

I’m also pretty particular about hanging clothes out on a line. One of my very first memories is of getting stung by a bee under clouds of crisp white sheets floating above me on a clothesline.

And I love to dance. The Flapper signed me up for ballet at Phil Grassia’s studio in NJ. I chased a dream in high school and commuted to Martha Graham School in NYC to study modern dance. I continued to study all types of dance under Bill Bales at SUNY College at Purchase.

And when Bob, who never liked to dance, wouldn’t take me to our Junior Prom at sixteen, I asked our good friend Bernie. Because I was that girl who had two Mothers and was never afraid to ask for what I wanted. I guess that was pretty quirky in 1965.   Junior Prom 20151111

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Bob alerted me to an article in November’s Atlantic magazine, “Remember the sexting scandal in Louisa this Spring?”

In fact, I didn’t, but I was all over our town’s famous crime novelist, John Grisham’s blow-up on Twitter about his interview with a British magazine. The one where he said our prisons are too full (true!) with normal, old, white guys downloading child porn (what?). Then he steps in it further by differentiating between 16 year old girls and 9 year old boys…

But that’s not the hot button issue Bob was talking about. He had listened to an NPR interview http://www.npr.org/blogs/alltechconsidered/2014/10/15/356393531/why-kids-sext-describes-nude-photos-as-social-currency-among-teens

…on his ride to the hospital yesterday with the author, Hanna Rosin, of the Atlantic piece on teen sexting: http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2014/11/why-kids-sext/380798/

Now we all know that teenagers do crazy things, and every generation has to prove their worth by totally rebelling against their parents – with their music, with their language, with a scathing look, or the ubiquitous word of dismissal, “Fine!” Sheer insolence has no better bedfellow than a teenage girl. Still, it’s one thing to grow your hair long and straight, shorten your skirts to the mini-mum, and listen to the Rolling Stones. Or as the Flapper did, bind her breasts, cut and bob her hair, and go out the window to dance to the Jimmy Dorsey Band.

“You come from a long line of rebels,” Mother told me more than once. But of course, we didn’t have smart phones.

Louisa is a sleepy country county, between my edge of the Shenandoah and the big city of Richmond, a mere 10 minute drive. Think Friday night lights on football fields, and the occasional DUI. So it was baffling to local law enforcement to find out A) that they were collecting more and more cell phones because each kid knew 5-10 kids with naked pix on their phones, it was non-ending, and B) that the kids didn’t seem to care at. all.

For the most part, the laws do not concern themselves with whether a sext was voluntarily shared between two people who had been dating for a year or was sent under pressure: a sext is a sext. So as it stands now, in most states it is perfectly legal for two 16-year-olds to have sex. But if they take pictures, it’s a matter for the police.

There is no easy takeaway from this article. Girls take great care in posing for their pix, like Kim Kardashian and her selfie book saga. Boys just point and shoot. And there are those who feel pressured by boys to send sexts, and those who are in a relationship and this just seems to be a part of the mating ritual, no.big.deal. For some boys, the number of naked pictures on their phones is akin to “social currency,” like collecting Pokemon cards.

But for some girls, the less confident, more marginalized girls, their pix are shared without their consent and humiliation follows; certainly setting up an Instagram account on the web takes this into felony territory. But even here, law enforcement wanted to know was this just two brothers playing a prank, or did they have a more salacious motive?

When we over-schedule our teens, when their only free time is spent texting their friends in the middle of the night, then we know something is wrong. Romancing in high school, while no longer done at the corner drug store sharing an ice cream soda, should not be done alone, after midnight, with a cell phone. Parents, teach your children well.

Love is Love but sexting is stupid

Love is Love but sexting is stupid

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It’s still the same old story 
A fight for love and glory 
A case of do or die

Guess what? The world does NOT always welcome lovers, as Louis Armstrong so gallantly sang in Casablanca. Remember the 1st Grade boy who was charged with sexual harassment for kissing a girl? Thankfully that judgement was overturned http://edition.cnn.com/2013/12/12/us/six-year-old-kissing-girl-suspension/

Well, in a week when we really should be looking critically at yet another school shooting, we have the case of an admitted “hugger” being suspended from his high school for a year for hugging his teacher. Yessir, in Georgia, a 17 year old boy who was 5 months away from graduating and going on to college with an athletic scholarship, has been forced to put his life on hold for a year.

Of course there are two sides to this story, and while I was sitting on a high school board back in NJ I heard all of them. I know that some hugs can hurt, I’ve actually had a rib crack from a friendly bear hug. And some hugs can be dismissive, as in one person is ready to forgive but you’re not quite there yet. Now we have the “inappropriate hug” which is open to interpretation.

But imho, the world can be divided into two camps – like Beatles or Stones? dogs or cats? –  huggers and non-huggers. Will the Love Bug escape her destiny? I’m afraid hugging will be inevitable in her case. IMG_2192

I sign many an email with the term, “Hugs!” I go in for a hug instead of a handshake most days. My kids are huggers, it’s almost genetic. We all know the stance of a non-hugger. Hands hang limp, body bends at the waist warily, head turns away. It’s like a sweaty palm in a perfunctory handshake, you wish you’d known they were non-huggers from the get go, but now it’s too late. You’re locked in an embrace with an automaton.

Sometimes a hug is all it takes. Like the time my next door neighbor’s house was burning down right around Christmas and I walked out into the night and found her, both of us shivering in our robes, and hugged her. She told me later how much she appreciated it and yet it wasn’t even pre-meditated, it was a reflexive reaction on my part. As that senior boy said about his teacher,

“She looked like she needed it.”

One of my earliest memories is of being kissed by a boy named Lloyd on the Kindergarten bus. It was a bit scary and thrilling all at the same time, which is why I remember it. What about you? Any early memories of that first kiss? Any inappropriate hug stories? Has zero tolerance become limitless ignorance? SIGH

And if you’d like to sign the petition to have the GA school board revisit such a calamitous disciplinary action for giving a hug to a teacher, here it is: http://www.change.org/petitions/gwinnett-county-public-schools-overturn-and-revisit-sam-mcnair-s-yearlong-suspension-for-hugging-a-teacher?share_id=RHbqsAXavU&utm_campaign=share_button_action_box&utm_medium=facebook&utm_source=share_petition

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Something psychedelic has been happening lately on Facebook. A friend from my high school’s Class of ’66 issued a challenge to her classmates to change our profile picture to our teenage self, preferably sporting that iconic hairstyle, the flip. Our generation bridged the gap between the long, straight hair type and the teased within an inch of your life Peggy Sue Got Married type. And nestled right there inbetween the greatest social changes imaginable, lots of us wore the flip with impunity.   CLR High School Web 20131107

Once your virtual self looks sixteen again, memories start floating back. I entered a public high school fresh out of Catholic school. My hair was the least of my worries. I had a severe case of poison ivy on my face Freshman year, and I only knew a few people. The bulk of Sacred Heart grads went on to a Catholic high school; I put my foot down. I was tired of memorizing Catechism. A girl named Margie introduced me to a boy named Bob and from that moment on my fate was sealed.

We sat together at the ‘nerd’ lunch table, which at that prehistoric, precomputer time meant the outliers. Those kids who didn’t play a sport, didn’t wear black leather, didn’t fit in. What we did like to do was drama club, so we would try out for all the plays and look dramatic over tuna fish sandwiches. Our town was salt of the earth blue collar, but most of this lunch table was headed for college. My counselor put me on track for secretarial school, so even though I wasn’t in many of their classes, they accepted me. We were brothers and sisters in Terpsichore.

Some of us became the Big Chill Thanksgiving troupe, gathering again year after year over turkey and cranberry sauce. Too bad my eyes are closed.12156_101119189911809_6561742_n

And it may be hard to believe, but we had a student at our school who suffered from polio. Before the ADA, this girl had to be home-schooled because she was in a wheelchair. I knew she lived in Victory Gardens, and that was all I knew about her. I remembered being lined up at Sacred Heart in the hallway, having to swallow some pink liquid. This was the first polio vaccine, and so I guess our generation bridged that gap as well.

Bob was just telling me how polio is making a comeback mostly because of war-torn Syria. How health officials can’t cross borders to get the vaccine to millions of children. He said it was nearly eradicated world-wide, a gem in the WHO world, and now this creeping viral outbreak.

Following reports of a cluster of 22 acute flaccid paralysis (AFP) cases on 17 October 2013 in the Syrian Arab Republic, wild poliovirus type 1 (WPV1) – See more at: http://www.polioeradication.org/Dataandmonitoring/Poliothisweek.aspx#sthash.FoP4dKlo.dpuf

Polio doesn’t need a mosquito as a vector, it is passed from person to person which makes it imminently treatable, and even more deadly. On this #ThrowbackThursday, let’s flip this disease around. Consider giving a charitable gift to Unicef this holiday season to help refugee children, to help contain this epidemic. http://www.unicef.org.au/charity-gifts/polio-preventers.aspx

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