Thursday, May 31, 2007

Earth to Parents: Get The Blinders Off and Check Out What Your Kids Are Doing!

The editor of the Conifer High School yearbook is defending her decision to print images of her classmates smoking marijuana and drinking beer. Many parents were struck with disbelief at the illicit behavior depicted in the yearbook. The pictures ranged from students posing with bongs and drinking alcohol to holding up police tickets for underage drinking.

Hannah Fredrickson, a senior, said she regrets not balancing the yearbook pictures of teenagers smoking pot with pictures of non-drug users. She also said she is sorry about not warning her principal and the faculty yearbook advisor about the pictures. Fredrickson said she wanted to open people's eyes and show them what was really going on. "Yes, smoking pot and underage drinking is illegal, but it doesn't mean it doesn't happen, and the point of the yearbook entirely is to cover what happens in the year," she said.

Fredrickson said she didn't want to gloss over the truths of life. The "Health -- Addicted to Addictions" a five-page section of the yearbook boldly illustrates the use of illegal drugs. "You'd be surprised at how many children at Conifer High School smoke pot," she said. "I wanted to push more for a deeper side of Conifer, which, for a lot of students, is drugs and alcohol," she said. In an ironic twist of fate and maybe an eye-opener for parents and administrators, it was just over a week ago that two Conifer students died when their Jeep rolled off the road. The Colorado State Patrol believes drugs may have played a role in that crash. Hello? Parents? Wake Up!

"It makes me feel good." That is how one high school senior put it in this year's edition of the Conifer High School yearbook. However, the quote isn't referring to all the memories made over four years, nor does it convey the satisfaction of the student's impending graduation. It's about marijuana. "I don't think it's that big of a deal," said freshman Drew Daughtry. "There are drugs wherever you go. They were just trying to show what really happens with students. It's part of their life."

The yearbook advisor for the school, Amy McTague, holds the students were only trying to capture the full extent of student life. When parents objected to the offensive material, she stated the students have a constitutional right to publish what they wish. The students' right to free speech did not stop her however from issuing letters of apology to parents. McTague agreed the pages were inappropriate.

Joy Reinke, 45, of Evergreen, parent of two daughters at Conifer, including one who is graduating this year, said she couldn't believe that the photos and quotes were published. Reinke said she talked to the yearbook adviser, Amy McTague, last week about her concerns and was disappointed in McTague's response. "She went on about it was the students' First Amendment right to freedom of speech, and we disagreed about that," Reinke said. "She has betrayed the trust of this community." McTague she sent a letter apologizing to parents. "It wasn't my intent or my students' intent to portray such a negative tone in their attempt to cover all aspects of a students' life and some of the very difficult choices they face," she wrote. Interim Principal Pat Termin agreed that mistakes were made. According to school administrators, it's too early to say if McTague will be disciplined. They say she has a great record with the school and has produced at least six amazing yearbooks.

Parent's have got to start getting involved in their kids' lives. I found a blog with comments written by some of the Conifer HS students. Like their comments are any different than the ones we made in High School. Some kids are bored with school. Check out some highlights of those entries...remember us making these?

Senior year is supposed to be the time of our lives, a milestone, the ending of the first chapter and starting of a new one. I remember anxiously awaiting the coveted year. So far this year I have learned a few things, the most important that I am ready to leave high school. I have spent a lot of time wandering the halls thinking up good excuses to be late again. My grandparents have died one too many times, my cat has used up more then her nine lives and I can't even begin to count how many times I have been to the doctor, dentist or orthodontist.
Coming to school offers no excitement anymore; I have exhausted everything this school has to offer. CHS doesn't offer fun and unusual courses such as bowling, swimming, Chinese, sociology, astronomy or career prepping classes such as oceanography and forensic science like Dakota Ridge and Chatfield do. Schools of equivalent size such as Evergreen still offer atypical classes such as AP European History and Social Science Perspectives. Classes at CHS are the typical and boring English, Spanish, history and math.
Even with the already limited schedule choices students are still faced with conflicts and forced to prioritize their classes. When arranging my classes for this year I was unable to enroll in a math course unless I dropped newspaper; I shouldn't be pressured to choose.

So far I have perfected the arts of procrastination, sleeping with my eyes open and getting by with the least amount of work, so this year hasn't been a total waste. I can think of one thing that would make this last semester more enjoyable. At least it's almost over. I will finally be able to escape the never-ending
high school drama of pointless arguments and back stabbing friends. One day I will probably want to be back but right now the countdown to graduation is on.

Kayla Huddleston

And from another part of their blog, this student puts my whole position into perspective. Hello Parents? Are you listening yet. Get off your ass, stop watching Oprah and Dr. Phil and get involved wuth what you kids are doing. This is one kid who's got her finger on the heart of the problem...

Over the last few days I realize that there has been a lot of controversy over the Conifer High School yearbook and the subjects included in our yearbook. Before I go any farther I would like to clarify that I have never used marijuana and do not plan to, in fact I think that people that use marijuana just think they are "cool" and use it for solely that purpose. I ask that you read what I have to say with respect and consider my opinion with an open mind. On that note I have several things to say about the drug use publicized in our yearbook.

All the students in our school are aware that there are kids who smoke pot. The yearbook wasn't a "rude awakening" and by covering up the pages we are not going to suddenly think that people don't smoke pot. I realize the parents concerns for their children but hiding them from reality is not going to help them in any way. Some parents may say that the yearbook will influence their children to experiment with drugs. These parents should not be concerned about what the yearbook says, but how they raised their children. If a yearbook page will influence their child to use drugs then I think something is seriously wrong with their parenting style.

Parents should be able to trust their kids to know what is right and what is wrong and not worry and be suspicious that a few words in a yearbook will ruin their kids for life. In addition, I think that parents don't want to admit that their kids are exposed to drugs everyday. While all the students know it is happening I think that parents want to think that we are still little kids and we can't get into any trouble. The teenage years are a time of change and independence. Parents don't want to let go of their children and have a hard time dealing with their new found independence. I think that this attack on the yearbook is just an attempt to control what little of our lives they still can. I understand that our parents want to protect us butthree pages in a yearbook are not going to significantly affect our lives.

I do not agree that Mrs. McTague should be fired or punished in anyway. The majority of the yearbook is amazing and without flaw so why should 3 pages affect her career as a teacher. If anything, I think that she should be thanked. By allowing these pages in the yearbook she has revealed the fact that drug use is a problem in high school. And not only at conifer high, but high schools everywhere. The state should realize that drug use is an issue and should take action and do something about it. What are they doing right now? From what I see, they are publicizing the fact that there is questionable content in a yearbook and considering firing a teacher. How will that help to fix the real problem?

Ask yourself this, would you rather have a clean yearbook and not know what goes on in your kid's life or have the truth be told and take action against drug use?

Amanda Kuker

Maybe the issue of drug use was not as widely known. Maybe people try to deny that it is really happening as often as it is. The truth is Mom & Dad, it is happening, and it happens a lot. According to editor Hannah Fredrickson, "I hope this book teaches everyone a lesson here and opens a few people's eyes."

The fact that a kid in High School can have the stones to "pull one over" on what must be a pretty mindless school administration make her my Hero this week. I'm not going to go on about the whole first ammendment thing. We've beat that to death. But this HS student has brought forth the problem that too many of todays parents cannot face is actually happening in their schools...and with their own kids! It's time for parents to wake up and smell the marijuana!

According to officials, students can return their yearbook to get a refund or to have the offending text covered with stickers featuring new captions and quotes. The "Health - addicted to addictions" pages will be glued together. Gee, if next years topics happens to be "Sex Underneath The Bleachers" then I'll be people will really be wondering what glue was used to stick those pages together!