Friday, January 19, 2007

T-t-t-talkin' 'bout Their Generation; Where Was Everybody?

Windsor parents were invited to attend an informational meeting this past Monday at the high school to learn about the drug program that is going to be implemented at the high school this April.

Windsor, the town whose parents are supposedly so supportive of and concerned about their kids...14 people including myself showed up to hear the presentation. One of us was a newspaper reporter. Another was the minutes-taker. What an impressive showing that was.

I understand that even if you have just one student in the school district, it can be difficult to attend all the meetings every month. With trying to juggle a non-traditional work schedule, Wes' weekly 4-hour class, and multiple activities of my own four kids, I rarely get to attend meetings, even those I want to. But given that Windsor High was recently singled out for its higher-than-average drug and alcohol abuse problem, I naively believed more parents would show up at this meeting that took all of one hour of my time. The turnout was disappointing, to say the least.

I don't think this program (called "Every 15 Minutes") will solve the town's teenage substance abuse problems, but I do believe it's a fantastic starting point that's going to have a strong impact on all students, not just those who perhaps need it the most. If you're interested, check it out at http://every15minutes.com/photos/index.html (copy and paste the URL into your browser). We've been asked, though, not to share details with students, as their knowledge of what will happen beforehand would definitely lessen the impact of the program.

I applaud the high school and the district for moving forward with this bold program. But I can't help feeling nagged by the staggeringly low interest shown on behalf of parents as indicated by the poor attendance at the meeting. Are there really parents out there who tell themselves that their child would never drink or drug, so they don't need to concern themselves with this issue? I struggle with the idea that anyone might be that naivé in this day and age. I pray every day that my kids steer clear of the path that will lead them in that direction, but I don't kid myself: I know not one of them is immune to curiosity. And having been a teen myself decades ago, I know that curiosity, innocent as it may be, can be the first step on the path to self-destruction. I'm fortunate to have taken the road less travelled, but I had friends and family who didn't. It can happen to anyone.

I do so hope parents of all kids will take an active role in this community's efforts to stem the tide of alcohol and drug abuse among our youth. Everyone can do something, even if it's as small as sitting down and talking with our children. Please forward this column to anyone you believe needs to read it.

I don't understand the concept of doing nothing, especially where our children are involved.


9 comments:

Judith K. Witherow said...

What a depressing article. Of course we can be sure that a certain number of the school kids will be doing any number of drugs, and their parents will absolutely believe attendance isn't necessary because it's those "other" students who do these things. Naive doesn't even begin to cover that attitude. Sad to say they will learn the hard way through overdoses, brain damage, automotive accidents, etc. I can understand teens, and younger ones, experimenting. What I can't fathom is the ignorance of adults who fail to protect the most precious thing in their life with knowledge.

Anonymous said...

Maybe it had something to do with many parents not even knowing there WAS a meeting?! And if you don't think that's part of the problem, then maybe the apathy you witnessed is the very reason WHY there is such a large drug problem in our high school. Too many parents who just don't care enough about what is really going on in their childrens' lives. Something to think about. Oh how I wish you still wrote for the Trib so this article was read by a larger audience. This town needs a wake up call.

Carrie said...

I am with anonymous!! I did not know there was a meeting. My oldest is graduated and the youngest just entered preschool. I would have still liked to have gone to this meeting. We are thinking of moving from Windsor. School system is why I move here 20 years ago now It just is not where we want to raise our 3 year old. There were too many things I couldn't control with my 18 yr old. I don't read the Beacon any more since Rebecca left but, Bec, Please send this in to the Beacons' letter to the editor. So everyone will see it!!

Anonymous said...

I am curious to know if a letter was sent (mailed) to the parents regarding this meeting. I do not have children at the high school level, but I did notice the article about the meeting in the newspaper and was happy to hear that this very important issue was finally going to be addressed by our school district. Does anyone know if there was some sort of other announcement about this meeting, other than the newspaper? Of course, it doesn't excuse the pitiful turnout, as I am sure a lot of parents must have read about it in the newspaper as I did.

Rebecca Valentine said...

I have sent letters to the ed to the Beacon...they don't get published (surprise!). I can't remember how I heard about the meeting. I know I read about it somewhere. The online Trib? Free Saturday Beacon? I'm not sure. I don't remember any letter being sent home about it, but I do know this meeting was the regularly scheduled PAC meeting that is held at the high school each month. I also read the daily announcements on the high school's Web site, so perhaps that's how I knew what the topic would be?

Anonymous said...

Parents who are TRULY disturbed about not knowing about the meeting could approach the administration and DEMAND that something this important receive more notification than is usual for these meetings.

And someone other than Rebecca can and should write letters to the editor. Here's a fact: Publication editors consider that every letter actually received represents ten others that people wanted to send but couldn't for some reason. For what it's worth, this goes clear to the top of the food chain: the offices of your elected government representatives, all the way to Capitol Hill. Think about it next time you ALMOST write that letter...

Anonymous said...

Many of us HAVE sent letters to the editor that go unpublished, as I assume they are deemed too controversal for the newspapers. It has become evident to me that our local newspapers prefer to publish non-controversal letters to the editor. Their stories, as of late, are more "fluff" than substance and some of the editors lack the backbone necessary to publish letters that might stir things up. I have come to believe that using the newspapers as an avenue to reach the masses isn't all that it's cracked up to be. Unfortunate, but true.

Rebecca Valentine said...

No doubt. At least in this town, the newspapers aren't all that concerned with covering important issues. They avoid controversy as if its an STD. But let's look at them up close: Trib editor Tom Fasano replaced my column with a snapshot of his own face and writes about things like a downtown business getting new awnings. The Beacon's editor replaced my column with one that never really says anything at all and is written by someone who, as Max says, needs to have her exclamation point key stolen. Clearly, the focus in both offices is on being anti-inflammatory (like hemorrhoid cream!): safe but useless. I miss having a print audience, but I can't say I regret leaving either paper.

Anonymous said...

I hear you - all talk, no action. I believe I saw the announcement in the newspaper - don't remember which one. And my kids are only in elementary schools. I too am one that does the research, goes to meetings, and gets involved - especially if I think there is an issue that needs addressed. But as you found, it's usually a lonely position. And then THE NERVE when I hear whining about how their kids has issues and they wonder how it could have ever happened. It gets old. But on an side note, - I had to laugh - no, snort, really - about Windsor being 'suddenly' a druggie town as if that was anything new!! I grew up in this town and 20-25 years ago - that's what this town was known for among the teens - nothing else to do here but drink, drugs, and have sex. Amazing how so much has changed here in that time period, and yet..not much. Oh, and that's a sad laugh - not a funny one at all.