Monthly Archives: March 2012

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Town Hall Meeting

Town Hall Meeting

March 29th at 5:30pm at Skyline Golfcourse in Black River Falls.

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Bath salts are the newest drug scourge to hit the US. They are currently available online, in gas stations and convenience stores across the nation. In the first few months of 2011, poison control centers nationwide reported a record-breaking increase in ER visits related to bath salts.

This is a highly addictive substance which causes intense paranoia, psychosis and suicidal thoughts. A drug abuse expert who treats young people in the grips of bath salt addiction speaks bluntly about this methamphetamine-like drug. The gut-wrenching story of Jarrod Moody, a young man who took his own life after a binge on bath salts caused him to spiral out of control, makes a powerful case against experimenting with bath salts.

Watch a 20/20 Report on Bath Salts.

If you are interested in ordering classroom materials for educational purposes HRM Video has movies and pamphlets available.

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Find out in an interactive way about product information, industry, harm, costs, and solutions for tobacco going on in every country at The Tobacco Atlas

Use Your Town Hall Meeting to Raise Awareness

 

Town Hall meetings will be held throughout the U.S. to get communities talking about and to raise awareness of the legal, health, and safety issues associated with underage drinking. Nearly 8,000 youth between the ages of 12 and 17 start drinking each day in the U.S. and most of them receive alcohol from parents, friends, and older siblings.

As you have your town hall meetings, talk to parents about the effects of underage drinking. Areas of discussion could include:

  • How large of a problem is alcohol use by underage youth in your community?
  • How easy is it for youth to obtain alcohol in your community?
  • Where do youth in your community access alcohol?
  • If you learned that your teen planned to attend a friend’s party where alcohol was going to be available or served, what would you do?
  • Do you know parents who host parties where alcohol is available or served to teens?
  • If parents knew about the laws and consequences of providing alcohol to teens, would it prevent them from hosting teen parties where alcohol is served?
  • What community-wide strategies can be implemented to reduce underage drinking in your community?

With spring breaks, prom and graduation approaching, communities need to unite and send a unified message to their youth that underage drinking is unsafe, unhealthy, and will not be tolerated.

Mobilize your community by working with various community sectors to create meaningful and long lasting change. Examples of strategies for working with community sectors are available at DrugFreeActionAlliance.org [http://www.drugfreeactionalliance.org/parents-who-host/community-engagement].

Engage Youth to help promote your message and raise awareness. Youth will be able to captivate the attention of parents and other community leaders more than an adult. Youth can speak about the challenges they face in their school and their community and can ask parents to help them by being a parent, not a friend, and refusing to allow underage drinking in their home.

Keep the conversation going beyond the town hall meeting by inviting attendees to attend your coalition meetings and checking in with them. A one and done approach (having one town hall meeting and not going beyond that) will limit the community’s ability to have sustainable change. Use the town hall meeting as a springboard to promote other prevention opportunities.

If you are not involved in planning or hosting a Town Hall meeting, you can search for a Town Hall meeting near you at https://www.stopalcoholabuse.gov/townhallmeetings/.

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has just launched a national mass media campaign to educate the public about the harmful effects of smoking and to encourage quitting. The campaign is called “Tips From Former Smokers” and features … Continue reading

I dare you to measure the “value” I add

(When i wrote this, I had no idea just how deeply this would speak to people and how widely it would spread. So, I think a better title is I Dare You to Measure the Value WE Add.)

Tell me how you determine the value I add to my class.

Tell me about the algorithms you applied when you took data from 16 students over a course of nearly five years of teaching and somehow used it to judge me as “below average” and “average”.

Tell me how you can examine my skills and talents and attribute worth to them without knowing me, my class, or my curriculum requirements.

Tell me how and I will tell you:

How all of my students come from different countries, different levels of prior education and literacy, and how there is no “research-based” elementary curriculum created to support schools or teachers to specifically meet their needs.

How the year for which you have data was the year my fifth graders first learned about gangs, the internet, and their sexual identities.

How the year for which you have data was the year that two of my students were so wracked by fear of deportation, depression and sleep deprivation from nightmares, that they could barely sit still and often fought with other students. How they became best of friends by year end. How one of them still visits me every September.

How that year most of my students worked harder than ever, (despite often being referred to as “the low class” or “lower level” within earshot of them), inspiring me and the teachers around us, despite the fact that many of these same students believed they could never go to college because of their immigration status.

How that year many of my students vaulted from a first to third and fourth grade reading levels but still only received a meaningless “1″ on their report cards because such growth is not valued by our current grading system.

How that was the year I quickly gained 6 new students from other countries and had my top 3 transferred out in January to general education classrooms because my school thankfully realized I shouldn’t have 32 students in a multilevel self-contained ESL class.

How the year for which you have data was the year that two of my students, twins who had come from China just the year before to live with parents they hadn’t seen since they were toddlers, finally started to speak in May. And smile. And make friends. How they kept in touch with me via edmodo for two years after leaving my school.

How that year I taught my class rudimentary American Sign Language for our research project; inspired and excited, they mostly taught themselves the Pledge of Allegiance, songs for our school play, John Lennon’s Imagine, and songs for graduation, all in ASL. Then we created an online video-translation dictionary using their first language, English, and ASL. They wrote scripts for skits we videotaped to teach many of these words in context.

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This year, my class represents seven countries, two continents, and three languages in one room. Together, they create a tapestry you can neither see, nor feel, nor imagine. I have students who grew up practicing Kung Fu and Tai Chi before school and now always get in trouble in gym for running. I have students in my fifth grade who never went to school before they crossed the US border last year or the year before. I have students who, although in fifth and fourth grade, are capable of doing 7th grade math while others are still learning to add and subtract well. I have a student who just came this year and is already reading on grade level.

I choose to revel in the richness this kind of diversity can bring to my classroom. The challenges, obstacles and pitfalls that teaching a group like this to work together, to learn, to create and grow both tire and thrill me. Not a day goes by that I don’t feel both excited and exhausted at the idea of tomorrow because of all that teaching a class like this entails.

But never will you be able to judge me or my students by one day or one test. Never will I give one iota of care about your tests, no matter how hard I work to help my students to do their best on it, knowing they aren’t meant to pass it because it is written far above their reading levels, and were written with native English speakers in mind. You can’t measure me as a teacher, because you haven’t imagined teachers like me or classes like mine. Their experiences are outside yours.

Tell me how important your data and tests are, and I will tell you how I don’t value your data because it tells me so little about my students yet so much about your educational system.

Your data says one thing: your system is what fails my students.

Teen girl dies after inhaling helium at party

Last weekend, 14-year-old Ashley Long told her parents she was going to a slumber party. But instead of spending the night watching videos and eating popcorn two blocks away, she piled into a car with a bunch of her friends and rode to a condo in Medford, Ore., where police say the big sister of one of her friends was throwing a party with booze and marijuana.

After drinking on the drive, and downing more drinks in the condo, it came time for Ashley to take her turn on a tank of helium that everyone else was inhaling to make their voices sound funny.

“That helium tank got going around,” said Ashley’s stepfather, Justin Earp, who learned what happened from talking to Ashley’s friends at the party. “It got to my daughter. My daughter didn’t want to do it. It was peer pressure. They put a mask up to her face. They said it would be OK. ‘It’s not gonna hurt you. It’ll just make you laugh and talk funny.’”

Instead, she passed out and later died at a hospital, the result of an obstruction in a blood vessel caused by inhaling helium from a pressurized tank.

“It blew her lungs out,” Earp said. “It exploded them. It created air pockets in her veins. Then it went up into her brain and blew it up.”

It’s a common party trick — someone sucks in helium to give their voice a cartoon character sound.

But the death exposes the rare but real dangers of inhaling helium, especially from a pressurized tank. The gas is also commonly seen in suicide kits — mail-order hoods sold out of Oregon and elsewhere that can be attached to a helium tank by people who want to kill themselves.

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Death from inhaling helium is so rare that the American Association Poison Control Centers lumps it in with other gases, such as methane and propane. Only three deaths from simple asphyxiants were recorded in 2010, said spokeswoman Loreeta Canton.

Dr. Mark Morocco, associate professor of emergency medicine at the Ronald Reagan Medical Center in Los Angeles, said what happens is similar to when a scuba diver surfaces too quickly. A gas bubble gets into the bloodstream, perhaps through some kind of tear in a blood vessel. If it is a vein, the bubble will stay in the lungs. If it is an artery, it can block the flow of oxygen-laden blood to the brain, causing a stroke. If there is a hole in the heart, the bubble can go from a vein to an artery and then to the brain.

“We tell folks every day that the combination of alcohol and anything else in the party world puts you at a much higher risk factor,” Morocco said.

Morocco said the other risk of using helium is apoxia, which can cause wooziness, but it’s not lethal.

It’s important to remind kids that ingesting any substance — for the sake of getting high or just changing their voices — can be dangerous, said Frank Pegueros, executive director of DARE, Drug Abuse Resistance Education.

Pegueros said the first defense is for parents to tell their kids about the dangers of certain substances. He said kids need to also ask themselves whether going along with the crowd at a party is worth it.

“Peer pressure is a very potent force,” he said. “We’ve all gone through it growing up.”

“It’s getting somebody to pause and think and evaluate the situation and determine, is this something that’s going to have a bad consequence,” he said.

Police have arrested 27-year-old Katherine McAloon, who lived in the condo, on charges of providing alcohol and marijuana to minors. Four men who were at the party have been questioned by police, but have not been charged, said Medford Police Lt. Mike Budreau. More charges may be filed after police turn over their evidence to the district attorney.

Ashley was a goofy, nerdy eighth-grader who struggled with her weight, was just starting to notice boys, got top grades in school, had posters of Justin Bieber all over her room and wanted to grow up to be a marine biologist, said her mom, Loriann Earp. The family moved from Grants Pass, Ore., to Eagle Point about a year ago, and Ashley had just gotten over the difficulty of adjusting to eighth grade in a new school.

Justin Earp said the kids had four wine coolers each in the car, and four mixed drinks at the condo, before they started passing around the helium.

Police said it was an 8-gallon canister, the kind you can buy at many stores. The kids were taking hits directly from the tank, not putting the gas into a balloon first.

When Ashley passed out, someone tried CPR. Then they called 911. Paramedics tried to revive her and took her to the hospital.

“About 11:30 we got a phone call from police saying they were doing CPR on our daughter,” said Justin Earp.