I spend so much time writing and thinking about the amazing electronic resources available to us as educators and students, that I often forget to tell the readers of this blog about the most important resources of all which, of course, are people. This past week in the LMC we hosted two special events, thanks to our wonderful educators at HHS, showcasing how local resources can be brought into the school.
White Ribbon Campaign (WRC): For two days during the lunch periods this past week, the WRC held a forum hosted by Mr. Polanco, a violence prevention specialist, addressing various aspects of the dating violence issue. Recently, meetings held by the Violence Intervention and Prevention (V.I.P) program made the news locally and the interest in the topic called for more discussion. In light of the attention that the Rihanna and Chris Brown incident has generated, many schools have taken this opportunity to talk about the wide-spread acceptance of violence, especially among young people. Organized by Mr. Polanco and Ms. Ireland, these sessions addressed the issue of dating violence, in general, and violence against women in particular. Three current and former HHS students, who have worked with Ms. Ireland and Mr. Polanco through V.I.P., also spoke about their personal experiences with violence. The overall messages of the discussions were that violence was not acceptable, that abuse comes in many forms, and that we are all personally responsible for speaking out against such actions.
Our wonderful health/wellness teachers, Ms. LaBelle and Ms. Matthews both alerted me to Oprah’s television specials which aired on consecutive Thursdays (3/5 and 3/12) focusing on the Rihanna/ Brown case. (I’m still really, really sorry I forgot to tape the second episode L ). Ms. LaBelle also brought to my attention a People Magazine article aimed at teenagers dealing with dating violence. Thank you both for passing along these useful resources for all students and teachers.
Guest Speaker Series: Mr. Levine’s sophomore Classical Academy Research Seminar classes have been treated to guest speakers over the past two weeks. This past Friday, the Reverend Ryuoh Faulconer, of the Nichiren Buddhist Sangha of Greater New England, came to speak to the students about many aspects of Buddhism, as students had been studying Eastern religions’ histories. He told the students the story of Siddhartha Gautama, who became the Buddha. Rev. Faulconer went on to explain the basic tenets of Buddhism, differences among Buddhist branches, and a brief history of Buddhism’s rise in America. The reverend also shared his personal story and explained what brought him to his conversion. Rev. Faulconer answered students’ questions and thanked his courteous audience for their attention and curiosity.
The week before, the speaker was Judge Newman, from the Lawrence Juvenile Court. Students were studying a unit on issues of national security after 9/11. The judge came to discuss concepts like due process, habeas corpus, and other issues of personal privacy and constitutional rights. Judge Newman also discussed the Patriot Act’s provisions, details of a Supreme Court case involving a Guatanamo Bay detainee and the impact of crime on the local level. He answered students questions and thanked his attentive audience for their feedback.
Besides these two special events, we were also busy with visiting classes all week long. I was bothered as usual by how often I have to remind students to put away phones and unplug earbuds, which they mostly do very respectfully in the LMC. I was also struck, however, by how many of the students in the LMC were working hard, reading, studying, trying to get ahead.
On a typical day, the LMC may have anywhere from 7 to 12 classes visiting – we do have 50 computers now with our expanded media lab. There are seven classrooms located in the LMC which meet five times a day. Since we also sign up over one hundred kids a day for study hall in the LMC, I figure that we (Ms. Sicard and I) see between five and seven hundred students a day in the LMC. (And she wonders why she gets grouchy?) Most of these people, obviously, simply flow past us each day. But many (many, many) interact with us every day, and although I haven’t got the math to prove it, I would have to say that more than most of those interactions are great and positive. Students and teachers who view the LMC as a place to get work done or to catch up on reading are our greatest resource because they help to create the academic atmosphere that we truly value. The LMC is at its best when everyone, students and teachers, are there to use the resources for education and to promote the mission of Haverhill High School, which is “to produce self-directed learners who read, write, and speak effectively in Standard English and who apply analytical and technological skills to interpret information and problem solve.”
So, thank you to all the students who signed up for library study and used their time productively and didn’t have to be reminded to put away their phones, ipods, food, drinks, etc. Thank you to Mr. Mitton, who found and passed along a great math site that lets users play with different polygons to discover what makes them special. Thank you to all the students in our visiting classes (Ms. Baker, Ms. Greer, Ms. Ireland, Mr. Lavieri, Mr. Levine, Ms. Malbon, Ms. Mansour, Ms. Medvetz, Mr. Polanco, Mr. Silva, Ms. Sullivan, the Success Academy and anyone else I may have forgotten) for making the LMC the academic heart of HHS.
Thank you for stopping by and I hope you have a great Sunday. See you all tomorrow.