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Archive for the ‘high school’ Category

In toney Eden Prairie, Minnesota, high school students have been busted. Busted by dozens of photos they or their friends have posted on their profile pages found on social networking pages like Facebook (see the previous post about this story as it broke on Jan. 9).

So far, 42 students have been disciplined and 13 have been suspended from school sanctioned extracurricular activities – activities in which many students signed a pledge to abstain from using alcohol or drugs or face consequences.

The Minneapolis Star Tribune reports today that students organized a classroom walkout today due to the controversy of whether or not school administrators have any authority over photographs and content found on Facebook. Not only that, apparently some parents are talking to lawyers to see if they can sue the school for taking measures they view as “too harsh” for the indiscretions and stupidity of their children.

It seems (as has been done through the ages) kids will be kids. I drank when I was 17 years old. In fact, I drank beers before, during and after high school events that I was involved in. I did not, however, share pictures of my activity with teachers, friends or parents in any public way. But today, with the accessibility of the Internet, these kids checked their brains at the login window and chose to upload photos of themselves at parties, holding beers or cups of beverages believed to contain alcohol.  The school administrators were presented with the evidence and felt obligated to take action. Case closed.

Except not only do the kids affected by the district’s discipline policy feel it’s too harsh, but so do the parents – who apparently also checked their brains at the door.

Helloooooo! Your child is consuming alcohol and brazenly posting pictures of their actions on public web sites. If you don’t want the school district to interfere and discipline then perhaps you should pull your heads out of your asses and be the parents!

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Oh my god! Are teenagers really this stupid?

The Minneapolis Star Tribune reported today that more than 100 students from toney Eden Praire High School (a ‘burb of Minneapolis) have been suspended from participating in athletic events and given other punishments because of incriminating photos posted on various profile pages found on Facebook.

I have a daughter. She has a Facebook page. She goes to parties where, at times I’m sure, alcohol gets served (you know those theater groupies – they love their booze and pot) *cough*. But I’m thinking that even IF a photo of her standing next to someone who appeared to be drinking a beer or other form of alcohol were taken, she’d never allow it to be posted online anywhere. Just a hunch. And if a photo incriminating her were to be posted online, someone’s head would roll. Her group of friends are above average in recognizing the public nature of the Internet. Unlike this student from another high school in suburban Minnesota who said:

I think it’s a huge invasion of privacy.”

Oh yes. That huge private thing called the Internet (rolling my eyes).

Many children today, for various reasons (read: most parents choose to be friends to their kids instead of serving as parents), think there are no longer limits as to what they can do. The drinking age is 21? Ha! Watch me drink. No cell phones in the classroom? Right. Sure. (sound of typing a text message as their pal’s phone across the room vibrates…loudly).

As an aside there was a hilarious joke going around just yesterday about Bill Clinton being in near-constant cell phone communication with Hillary as the two campaigned in New Hampshire. The punch line dealt with Bill’s phone being on vibrate, making the calls from Hill all the more wanted. Ok. Not so hilarious perhaps, unless Bill’s cell phone is shaped like a cigar.

Back to the story…

So a preponderance of kids today think it’s a “no-holds barred” world for them and all they have to do is show up to have life handed to them on a platter. And parents enable this attitude. Junior drives Dad’s 2003 Beemer to school five days a week, and sits in the “great room” of the fam’s 4,000-square-foot-house while mommy serves him and his five best buds plenty of pizza and ego-building compliments about what good kids they are. They, in turn, lap it up and ask for more.

And what will the result of this Facebook scandal net these kids who are caught with beers in hand? A few missed games if they’re an athlete. A wag of the finger from school administrators who’ll say,

“Don’t you know better?” And of course, mommy and daddy just might smirk and say, “Next time you have a party, all cameras and phones will be checked at the door!”

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Yet another first day of school is in the books. Both kids started back on September 4: One in 7th grade (first year of junior high), and one now a junior in high school. They scrambled to tell me how their first days went and I listened, congratulated them and patted them on the backs for taking on another school year with such enthusiasm. In the back of my mind I kept telling myself, “They want something. Here it comes. It’s coming. They’re going to ask…”

 

They never asked.

It was just me and my two kids talking. Well, they talked and I listened. And today they’re back in class. So as a parent, I must be doing something right. Right?

I vividly remember both my start in junior high and my junior year of high school.

Junior high is such a huge transition year. You quickly become a big kid. It’s awkward for boys because we’re sweating and smelling and growing hair in places previously untouched by hair. We start noticing girls in a serious way and have to deal with our mature immaturity. One minute we’re all grown up, the next minute we’re sucking the air out of an empty Mountain Dew bottle and vacuuming it to our cheek, unknowingly leaving a large red hicky on the side of our faces. Just try to explain that to an older kid who’s pointing, laughing and calling you hicky face.

High school juniors, on the other hand are all grown up. They’re practically the top dog and they’re faced with their most challenging year of education they’ve ever had. Eleventh grade teachers are brutal. They pile on the homework in an effort to separate the wheat from the chaff. They want you to know by the end of your junior year if you’re going to a university, a junior-college or straight into the workforce. Of course there’s always the threat of joining one of the armed service branches for those who refuse to turn in assignments on time.

My junior year was filled with dating, music and drinking…and a few nights of studying when I had to. And even with a lowly ACT score, I still got accepted at a major university, proving that if I can handle it, any average kid can. But what is average? It’s the best of the worst, right? So why not strive for excellence? That’s a tough lesson to teach any 17-year-old.  

You lead by example, set expectations and hope they’ll see the rays of light you shine on their path. Then you remain realistic, knowing they’ll stumble along the way and that you’ll be there to pick them up and dust them off.

In the end you can pat yourself on the back if, during the year, you’ve congratulated them more than admonished them and, when spring time rolls around in six months, they’re still just as enthused as they were on that first day back to school.

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The new head of the science division at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration is an old friend of mine. We went to high school together. He and another guy egged me and a friend of mine after school one Autumn afternoon. Splat, egg whites and yolks ran down our backs and these two buffoons stood there laughing. I suppose we deserved it. We were less geeky than they were. This happened in junior high. We maintained our friendship for the ensuing five-plus years.

Kent G. Bress and I not only became friends in junior high, but we also remained close throughout high school and then found ourselves as college roommates for a year (1983 – ’84) at the University of Iowa. As a roommate, I saw Kent in some very, very interesting states of inebriation. I won’t go into details here because I prefer not to have a federally funded institution investigate me at this point in my life. I will say that Kent was the consummate student, wickedly intelligent – although there was a slight shortfall when it came to common sense (thus the egging).

The Bress family I knew back in my hometown was quite typical. Kent’s Dad owned a butcher shop where we spent many a Friday and Saturday night kicked back drinking Old English 800 malt liquor in the back room. Kent’s Mom, Evelyn, was a German instructor at the high school. Her class was a riot and while I sucked at speaking German, I learned a lot about people and relationships in Frau Bress’s classroom. Kent’s older brother lived a block north of my childhood home, on the corner of West Third Street and Fourth Avenue West. I think we drank beer there once or twice, too.

When I got an e-mail from our former high school band director (Kent played a mean French Horn as well and was a two or three-time All State Band member), I wasn’t shocked to discover Kent had been promoted within NASA to head up one of its Science divisions. I’m sure he’s surrounded by a group of super-intelligent people from all walks of life and they all go home each night wondering how Kent trumps them all in the knowledge department.

However, I can proudly say that he’s still a bigger geek than me.

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