What happens to teens who refuse to go to school? Sometimes, bad things. In many districts, the protocol is for school officials to call the truancy officer, who then may arrest the teen. At North Star we have worked with teens who experienced this. The law is that people under the age of 16 must spend the day in school, and if they refuse, they can be held in juvenile detention during school hours, and sometimes sentenced to longer terms.
Many teens miserable in school manage to get themselves into the building most days, but behave badly within their confines once they are there, creating problems for teachers and other students. Many of these misbehaving teens then find themselves facing repercussions greater than detention. With a growing police presence inside schools, what used to be a trip to the vice principal's office can now be a trip to the police station. One local North Star alum was arrested in school for using a curse word directed at the teacher. The teen was arrested, which was a violation of a previous probation, and ended up in juvenile detention for three weeks. I'm happy to report that this teen had parents who assessed that school was not a supportive place for their child, and they sought other options. They found their way to North Star and to an increasingly positive and healthy adolescent experience. Most teens who act out within a school setting are not so fortunate.
North Star is not a therapeutic environment and I do not mean to say that we are the cure for all problems. No one setting is. I would like to call attention to the need for more options. Many teens find themselves unhappy in school. This is not indicative of a problem in the teen. This is a result of our one-size-fits-all attitude to education and our collective devaluing of skills and interests beyond those that are tested by high-stakes tests.
Without access to other options, most teens who are unhappy in school muddle their way through. Some drop out with an air of failure, often believing the negative assessment of themselves that they have received from school and now from society at large. A significant number of others are funnelled from school directly into the crimincal justice system.
From The American Civil Liberties Union website: "The “"school-to-prison pipeline"” refers to the policies and practices that push our nation’s schoolchildren, especially our most at-risk children, out of classrooms and into the juvenile and criminal justice systems. This pipeline reflects the prioritization of incarceration over education." Read more about the school-to-prison pipeline, its underlying causes and ramifications HERE.
Following is a two-minute video about this issue specifically in New York state:
Wouldn't it be great if there were other ways to support with youth who are not well served in school? Oh, wait....
Tonight! (Friday, April 6) 6:00 PM Olde Beauty: An Independent Learners Exhibition opens in the Nolen Art Lounge, Smith College Campus Center.
For the last several months Smith College senior, Rebecca Baroukh, has been working with a group of North Star teens to create a photo exhibition. Their months of work and planning has come together and the show opens tonight! Reception begins at 6:00 PM. You can preview some of the photo on Tumblr.
VARIETY SHOW SPECTACULAR!
Variety Show is a class led by John Sprague and Josh Wachtel that meets on Friday mornings at 10:00. Josh and John work with the group to create a series of performances. We got to appreciate their preparation at the Spring Variety Show last Saturday night. It was absolutely beautiful. I filmed the whole adventure and I'm working on turning it into a dvd. Stay tuned.
FYI- Several North Star teens are participating in Starlight's upcoming production of Suessical, the Musical! In fact, our very own Sisi is one of the leads of the 130 member show. Here's their blurb:
Starlight’s Youth Theatre proudly presents Seussical, the Musical! Performances are on Friday, April 27 at 7 pm, Saturday, April 28 at 2 pm and 7 pm, and Sunday, April 29 at 2 pm at South Hadley High School, 153 Route 116 (Newton Street), South Hadley. Come enjoy this delightful show presented by our exuberant local all-youth cast, and featuring many favorite Dr. Seuss characters such as the Cat in the Hat, Horton the Elephant, and many, many more. Tickets are $12 for adults and $10 for students and seniors and can be purchased at: www.starlights-youth-theatre.com or at the show.
HEAR ME Project Auditions! The HEAR ME Project is holding online auditions for their local production highlighting teen musicians from the Pioneer Valley. Learn more at HearMeProject.com.