Twelve Notes About Summer School

Today was the first day of the second session of summer school.  Twelve notes about this summer so far:

  • On the first day, I asked kids to write down a few hobbies and interesting things about themselves so I could learn their names better.  One boy put down for his first hobby, “smoking.”  A girl wrote one word: “lesbian.”
  • One boy put down “tattooing” as a hobby.  I can’t help but notice just how many kids have tattoos now.  They’re not small, either.  Maybe a quarter of the boys in summer school have large tattoos on their arms, and it’s long since become very common for teenage girls to have lumbar tattoos.  These aren’t amateur tats done by friends in their bedrooms, these are professional store-bought works.  Clearly, they’re getting these either with parental approval or money, or at least without opposition.  What are these parents thinking?  Permanently scarring the body of a teenager?  How do they think this will affect them in life, already setting the bar of acceptable behavior that low?  If they’re getting tattoos at 15, what do they think their children will they be doing at 25?  Volunteering to read to blind orphans at the hospital? 
  • On the first day of class, I noticed two kids who spent their down time between assignments doodling in their notebooks.  They drew mushrooms and one girl decorated a graffiti-styled “420,” a popular reference to marijuana smoking.  She also had a 504, which isn’t surprising–I’ve come to believe that much of America’s special education, therapy, and remediation for teens is just treating their drug use. 
  • When I asked students to write interesting things about themselves for first day introductions, several put down their ethnicity. Continue reading

MSP: Second Class Requirement 8

8.  Participate in a school, community, or troop program on the dangers of using drugs, alcohol, and tobacco, and other practices that could be harmful to your health. Discuss your participation in the program with your family.


On Monday, I brought home a DVD from the library of a school documentary called Drug & Alcohol Awareness.  It was a very cheesy production, but short (only 20 minutes), and it gave us as a family a chance to discuss the dangers of substance abuse.  It got the job done. 


Teenage Tragedies

The Las Vegas Review-Journal is reporting today on a 16 year old girl who died Sunday when the car she was in rolled over.  It rolled because the drunk teenage driver was racing another teen.  The driver, the son of a local judge, is on suicide watch. 

This tragedy is heartbreaking enough, but what makes it worse is that this keeps happening

There’s a memorial in front of my school for two young women who were killed in a speed-related traffic accident just off campus three years ago. 

In 2002, two cars full of kids were returning to Las Vegas High School from lunch down a stretch of Sahara Avenue that kids often use for racing.  They went too fast and one car crashed, killing two of the four girls in that car

I worked there that year, and knew one of the survivors.  I remember going to see her in the hospital, trying to cheer her up a bit.  Her recovery was long and painful; she’s an adult by now, and I don’t know how fully she ever healed from her injuries.  The other survivor lost a leg entirely.

The driver was friends with two girls in one of my classes.  When the driver died, her friends told me that they were almost glad for her, because otherwise she’d have had to live knowing that she was responsible for killing another friend. 

And yet, by the next year, kids were speeding down that street again.  And in front of my current school, where the beautiful memorial reminds us of two more girls who died the same way, I see cars full of kids speeding nearly every day, going off into the desert or passing others on a two lane road. 

I can’t help but wonder, how are we supposed to teach kids to write and calculate if we can’t even teach them not to kill themselves with reckless driving?

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