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Is School a Choice?

By: Mary Leadem Ticiu, Assistant Principal District 834, Guest Author


School has begun and questions arise related to “What should I wear, who will be my friends, how many notebooks do I need, who will they assign as my teacher, and why do I really need to go to school?” These questions reflect excitement and, for some, anxiety. The experiences of the child’s past often lead them to question what the school year will bring. Questions pose a wonderful opportunity for parents and guardians to talk about the choices we all make. I would like to consider what it means when students choose – or rather “refuse” – to go to school. If this happens, families and friends have the responsibility to listen, explain ramifications in a meaningful way, and support what is the underlying unmet need in a non-punitive manner.

As an assistant principal, you may think I am crazy letting a school-age child have an open dialogue about choosing attendance. However, there can be no choice without consequences. School is an educational pathway, like a golden ticket of greater value than a trip to Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. If we allow for the discussion of choice then we can hear what is intended by the child’s questioning, resistance, and outright refusal to attend.

Research provides us with reams of evidence of the need to attend school, learn for life and project a positive trajectory into a career of military service, mission work, technical school or college. Attendance is an early indicator of invaluable soft skills and the traits of success in the workplace. Choosing not to be a student will have a severe cause and effect in short term and long-term goals. The choice, in this case, may have negative consequences.

Why then do kids balk, refuse, resist and feel a compelling urge to skip or even quit? They know it is wrong, against the rules, not in their best interest and illegal. I believe many students simply want to make their own choices. And we as adults are obligated to get in the way of their potential failure and help them succeed. We must remember our own imperfections and trials and then lead them to a good place where they choose school each and every day.

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September is National Suicide Prevention Month

By: Kara Bennett NAMI MN, Coordinator Suicide Prevention Programs, Guest Author

Suicide is a public health issue that is experienced to some degree within all demographics and age groups.
It’s the 10th leading cause of death among adults in the US and the 2nd leading cause of death among young people aged 10-24.

It’s estimated that over 90{a64e5c7e062cd1e4e2f9421eef92c66acc8bb07332f04d4f529edfa6a926861d} of people who die by suicide lived with a diagnosable mental illness. Additionally, 90{a64e5c7e062cd1e4e2f9421eef92c66acc8bb07332f04d4f529edfa6a926861d} of people who survive an attempt do not go on to die by suicide. These two stats provide hope within a difficult topic. These numbers show and remind us that in the vast majority of cases suicide is the outcome of a medical condition. Mental illnesses are treatable and people can get the help that they need.

NAMI Minnesota works closely with the Minnesota Department of Health and other organizations across the state, like YSB, to offer suicide awareness and prevention workshops to educators, mental health care providers, families, and community members of all sorts. These workshops are important vehicles for dispelling myths around suicide and providing people with practical tools they can use to help someone through a crisis. All of our community programs are free of charge.

We are fortunate to be working more and more with YSB. Their support and partnership has allowed us to participate in collaborative meetings with the Stillwater School District and sit on a panel for the Woodbury Thrives event addressing 13 Reasons Why. We’re thankful for these opportunities and look forward to a deepening relationship that allows us to better serve Washington County.

On our website, you’ll find up to date information about scheduled workshops, as well as a list of additional suicide prevention related resources. Because September is National Suicide Prevention Month, there are many free workshops available!

You can also have us come to you by filling out our online presentation request form. We frequently speak to organizations, schools, and community groups like clubs and churches. With enough lead time, we can accommodate most requests. Check out the form for full details.

If you are worried that someone in your life may be considering suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK or visit https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/.