Did My Brain Fall Out?

Haven't we all asked ourselves this question? There are days I am quite sure my brain did fall out - I can barely put one foot in front of the other and I forget everything. I know you can relate!

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Miracle League: If we all followed these principles the world would be a beautiful place to live

CLM1 joined Miracle League baseball this season. Miracle League is a baseball organization for disabled people with a specially designed rubber playing field.  I had never heard of it before, but a friend of ours mentioned that her daughter has played every year, so I signed up CLM1. I've been away for the past two weekends so I didn't get to see her play. After her first game, my husband called me all excited - he had never seen anything like it! Today was my day to take her and as I watched all these kids and families congregate on the rubber baseball field it occurred to me: 

1. Everyone gets a buddy: buddies sit in the dug-out with you, run the bases with you, stand at bat with you and make you feel special. We all need a buddy.

2. Three strikes doesn't mean you're out. You swing until you hit the ball. Wouldn't we all love as many chances as it takes to get something right?

3. You can steal all the bases, even home if you feel like it, and everyone will cheer you on! How many times has life stopped us short? Steal the bases sometimes, people.

4. You choose what bat you use - skinny metal, wood, fat plastic. As we go through life we realize that we have few choices, so don't always choose what the "norm" dictates. Choose that red, fat plastic bat sometimes.

5. Opposing teams cheer for each other. Wow! Do you hear that Congress? We're all on the same team and beautiful things happen when we cheer for each other.

6. Rubber fields beat grass any day. Even if you fall, you're OK! No stains on the uniforms - you just get up and keep playing!

7. Everyone gets a home run. We all need to feel successful.

8. Johnny Cash's "Ring of Fire" and Pharrell's "Happy" accompanies each inning! Who could ask for better theme songs?

9. If your favorite song comes on, you can stop playing and dance in the middle of the field if you want to. And you know, sometimes, we just need to stop what we're doing, get happy and dance like no one's watching.

10. There's no score and everyone is safe. This one speaks for itself.

For more information on Miracle League click here:  http://www.miracleleague.com/history.html

For information on our local Miracle League click here: http://miracleleaguewilm.org/

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

How Caring For My Mom is Like Raising My Teens

We all have our own rows to hoe: single parent, married parent, step parent, sibling, child, friend, neighbor, family activity director, chaperone, chauffeur, in-house heart mender, soul tender, financial advisor, banker, lender and collection agency. For a lot of people I know, we are all of these things, or a mish-mosh of these things, like the old school Chinese menu, two from column A, two from column B, egg roll. Ready in 10 minute.

My new build-the-airplane-as-I-fly role is as caretaker for my mom. Every day I am amazed at how much I don’t know – and trust me, this whole experience has been a lesson in humility, humbleness and the occasional face-plant-grovel. I am the first to admit that I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT I AM DOING! I have also started to see the similarities between raising teens and caring for my mom.

They always ask for money: When I was growing up my grandfather lived with us, and he was always concerned with having cash in his wallet. When I became a teen my mom was my main source of cash for my wallet. My kids ask ME for money all the time. Now, every time I visit mom she asks me for money. For a while she would venture out to Walmart or go to lunch with the group at her assisted living facility, but when she stopped doing those things she still asked me for money. “Ma, what do you need more money for?” to which she would respond, “Why can’t you just give me money?”, then she would turn to whomever else was in the room and tell them that I am cheap. Turns out she was giving her friends money to get her Aspercreme, Immodium and Tums from Walmart. We all howled when she got caught “doing the deal” in the hallway. She said there are rats everywhere.

Where shall they live?: This one hits close to home…literally. After over 40 years of my mom living in the same house, I had no choice but to sell when she got too sick to live at home alone. Living 700 miles from me, the choices were few, so I moved her closer to me and sold her house. As a parent of a teen with autism, where shall she live is talked about often…I mean not where shall she live right now, but what about the future? Also, my sophomore’s days at home are limited – college is around the corner – so where shall she live? How will I ever find places that will keep them all safe, happy, healthy, and cared for like they deserve? How will I ever get all their STUFF to fit in one room. {Shoves more boxes in the closet and slams the door}.

They always need to go somewhere: I am ALWAYS in the car. ALWAYS. Driving all over kingdom come; band practice, church, doctors, errands, visiting. Mom asks the least and requires very little chauffeuring, however the kids are always whining…go here…go there…get me this...take me…can we...Coordinating who needs to go where (not even including my own schedule!) is exhausting and can leave me lying awake at night figuring out how I can be two places at the same time. Calgon. Sometimes I wish someone would steal my car (but bring it back about 48 hours later) just so I can get a break.

They fib and forget: For a while in my family we've had a running joke that my mom’s Intel is about as reliable as a supermarket tabloid. What makes it so funny is that it’s true. With dementia scratching at her door, her inaccuracies are probably not something to laugh about, but some of them are such doozies that the belly laughs cannot be contained. I will say this, she lied about her health way before she had dementia, usually to her doctors (I guess she wanted to impress them?). She was her own one-woman tabloid way before she had dementia so I guess it’s ok to laugh. And hey, my teens? They lie about stuff and flub information all the time, little half-truths and embellishments depending on how severe the punishment or awesome the reward will be. Mom genuinely forgets things which (ehem) may be the case when my kids “forget” to scoop the kitty litter or empty the dishwasher.

I love my mom. I love my kids. I love this rattletrap plane that I’m building with spit, duct tape, tears and laundry detergent. It would be nice to have someone else take over the navigating though.

Moms. Sheesh.
Teens. Sheesh.
Daughters. Sheesh.

The circle of life…sure has a wicked sense of humor.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Moving (On) Is Hard To Do

A hundred years ago (really it was 2008) there was this pregnant chick who showed up on the first day of work for the new school year. She came from the "tough" school, where all the "bad" kids go. In the flurry of the first days of school I saw very little of her.

I can remember the day we spoke for the first time - she was walking down the hall, I'm pretty sure towards the bathroom with her pregnant bladder, and I was headed to my room. A simple, "Hey, how's it going (omg, what's her name, what's her name again?)?" turned into a friendship that I will cherish forever.

I cannot begin to tell you everything we have been through, the good, the bad and the ugly. The really good, the really bad, the super ugly, AND THE SIDE-SPLITTING, SNORTING, CRYING LAUGHTER. You see, Rebecca thought I was funny and I thought she was funnier, and that is the glue that has held our little dysfunctional friendship together. That and I'm pretty sure we love each other ♥

Rebecca is that friend that everyone should be lucky enough to have. 

She is that friend: 

Who I never have to clean my house for...
Who I can count on to laugh at me for my neurotic perseveration on stupid shit....
Who I can unload a string of curses in front of and not only does she not blink an eye, she joins right in.... 
Who I can count on to never befriend my enemies, frenemies or anyone else that I just don't like....
Who can tell me the truth about my outfits, hairstyles, behavior and parenting skills...
Who I can talk to about how frequently (or infrequently) I poop...
Who weathered the worst boss ever created with me...
Who is my go-to prom/school event date...
Who people confuse me for (although we've never really figured out how that happens)...
Who made me laugh about the ridiculous, heinous and off the wall crazy shit said boss pulled on both of us...
Who is my DKG sister...
Who I can work into a froth when my neuroses-cup overfloweth...
Who can make a lesson plan in less than 5 minutes...
Who calls me by my last name and I hers...
Who taught me the best one-liners for classroom management...
Who fed my family when my mom got really sick...
Who likes my kids as much as I like hers (which is A LOT)...
Who "gets" Courtney so I never feel anxious about what Courtney might say around her...
Who shares stupid videos with me...
Who sticks around at the end of the day to repeatedly watch said stupid videos with me..over and over and over again....{snorts galore}
Who was my first floor neighbor...
Who shared a room with me and made me laugh every single day....
Who made our ghetto names...Suzz-a-naay and Reb-aahh-kahhh...
Who will forever be the liberal to my conservative, the crunchy granola to my processed foods...
Who has seen me at my worst...
Who celebrated me no matter what...
Who will dry my tears when everything is going wrong...
Who will laugh at my tears when I THINK everything is going wrong...
Who is honest and trustworthy and kind even if she's a little tough on the outside...
Who doesn't mind that I'm a hugger...
Who, even though I don't see her every day, is still with me no matter what...
Who is a straight shooter....
Who never thinks that I have too many animals because hers usually outnumber mine...
Who loves Napoleon Dynamite...
Who sews like nobody's business...
Who loves Key and Peele as much as I do...

So, as she heads off into the sunset, kids and animals in tow, I am happy for her. But I am a little sad for myself, because my life, my heart, my classroom and my halls will never, ever, be quite the same. 

I love you Flynn! 

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Stop Lying to Yourself

I am watching Dear John and crying, not because of the love story, but because the dad very obviously has Asperger's. I've been thinking a lot lately about C1 and her future because we seem to be at a standstill as far as what her next step will be. There are no programs in our area for high functioning autistic adults; she will be 20 years old in August, and I don't have the funds to build our own version of a program that would offer her transportation, employment, college and support. So, for now, until I can come up with SOMETHING, she sits at home while the rest of us are at work and school. Sits. And. Sits.

I've also been tortured lately, scared about what will happen to her when my husband and I, inevitably but God willing not for a hundred years, leave this Earth.

So to those of you out there who don't wish for a "cure" because you love your child, or yourself, just the way you are? I think you're lying because who in their right mind wouldn't want life to be easier to navigate than this crap shoot? Who in their right mind wouldn't want to be assured that your child will be able to take care of themselves if something happens to you? Who in their right mind wouldn't want to wake up and the word autism be missing from their vocabulary?

I love my child, purple, striped, autistic or not, and I certainly don't want to "CHANGE" her, but DAMMIT I want this to be EASIER FOR HER. Is that too much to ask?

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Fat Clothes Are Contagious: Who’s Afraid of the Chubby Chicks?

Fat clothes must be contagious or so those idiots who design the stores’ layouts obviously think. 

As I tried my hardest to find a classic dress shirt for an interview recently, I was faced with the realization that every store I entered obviously feels embarrassed that they carry women’s or plus sized clothing, I mean why else would they hide their plus size sections? It’s as if each store has this desire to be an exclusive boutique where nothing is larger than a size 4 and nothing is cheaper than $89.50. No wait, $89.64, .50 is just too ordinary. This is not to say that there aren't boutiques out there that sell items my plus sized butt can fit into, however, the majority of the time shopping, no matter where, is a serious disappointment for anyone above a size 12.

(If anyone comments on this post about how I should just lose weight, I will make a voodoo doll in your likeness and force-feed it Oreos and lard until you cannot fit out your front door. Save it for someone who cares what you think! This is MY blog, so I run the show). 

As a disclaimer,  I have been every size between a 9 and a 22 over the years, so I am credible in this area. Shopping as a 9 or 12 is way easier than shopping as an 18 or 22. Why? Well, one, there is a larger variety of styles and both larger selections and sections for the “regular” sizes. Go into any store and you’ll notice how LARGE the clothing sections are. Shopping as a larger woman is hard enough but when you shrink our sections AND selections by some stupid formula where you divide our "area" by our weight and then subtract the yearly cost of Weight Watchers, I call bullshit.  Then, you take that section and cram it somewhere so it’s out of the way, hidden from sight as to not offend anyone. Who the hell do you think will be offended? The skinny bitches?! WE DON'T CARE ABOUT THEM. 

According to WebMd, “today, the average American woman is 5'4″, has a waist size of 34-35 inches and weighs between 140-150lbs, with a dress size of 12-14. Fifty years ago, the average woman was 5'3-4″ with a waist size of approximately 24-25″, she weighed about 120lbs and wore a size 8.” A size 14 is not included in the plus sized category, however the size and selection for the “bigger” girl shouldn't be diametrically opposite of the 6s and 8s. Begin to pay attention to the plus size sections, where they are, how many racks there are. Then begin to pay attention to the same for “regular” clothes.

So, I visited at least 11 stores looking for a dress shirt. (I reserve another post at a later date to discuss why I couldn't find a classic, crisp dress shirt for less than $50). Some of these stores were SO incredibly biased in where they “hid” their fluffy girl clothes I had no choice but to write this.

TJ Maxx tried but the two racks that only included shirts and pants (there were NO plus size dresses anywhere in the store) are a poor comparison to the at least 40 racks of “regular” sizes.

Target is the worst offender in the hurt feelings department. They have just tucked their plus sizes right there with the maternity clothes. We get three racks tops and, whoops that dress you think is pretty? Yeah, that’s for an expectant mom. Plus...oops one step to the left and you're in maternity.Target’s plus size section is like straddling a state line; plus, maternity, plus, maternity. Honestly, I never shop there. They hurt my feelings years ago with their obvious hatred of the fluffy.

Belk’s is a new one I will boycott. Now, being from the north, I had never heard of Belk’s until I moved south, but it turns out to be a close sister of Macy’s (just to give my friends up north a reference point – oh and Macy’s hides the full-figured department in their basement). When you walk into Belk's an entire half of the first floor is both men’s and women’s clothing, and that it is huge - racks upon racks upon rack as far as the eye can see. The kids and I wandered around for a while, looking for ANYTHING in my size. Finally, C2 says, “Mom, I think your clothes are upstairs.” Wait, what? No C2, that can’t be…ALL OF THE CLOTHES ARE DOWN HERE. I hate to admit it but C2 was right; there they were tucked in behind formal dresses and next to the underwear. 

Steinmart (think Lord and Taylor, New York friends) had one of the largest selections with the most rack space, however they placed their chubby sizes in the middle of the store, surrounded by all the regular and petites, kind of like a bunch of bullies surrounding the fat kid at recess. Another woman shopping motioned with a sweeping arm gesture to the rest of the store and declared, “Look at all that! Why can’t they make cute stuff like that for us? Would it kill them to use a little more fabric?!” See? I am not alone.

JC Penny, we’ll just call it the Sneeze-and-You-Miss-It Department. 

Dillard’s, upstairs, back corner. ‘Nuff said. At least we have our own dressing room – I mean who wants to witness all THAT?

Kohl’s, oh how I used to love thee. I have stopped shopping there because they have become very price prohibitive. That and our section bleeds into the children’s department. Kohl's selections are much larger than most, so I have to give them two stars for that.

Sears was the only one who tried to represent my full-figured sisters with equality by placing our section in with the “regular” clothes, although we were still outliers and fall dangerously close to the shoe department, which last I checked only carries shoe sizes up to 16. 

Cato's  is where it's at! We have a WHOLE HALF of the ENTIRE STORE! It's equality (I measured!). We can even use the same dressing rooms! 

So, what’s with all this hiding? The big and tall men sections are NEVER placed in a separate part of the store! They are mixed in with the other men’s clothing. So, why are just women's plus sized clothing being sequestered? It's ok for men to be big and tall and fluffy and fat and chubby and big boned, however society dictates a different set of rules for ladies. Stores that discriminate and segregate are feeding this hatred for the big,tall, fluffy, fat, chubby, big boned woman and I AM SICK OF IT! 

If 14 is average now, the fluffy are going to be taking over very, very soon, so for the love of God, treat us better!  I SAY, {shakes fist in air} IF OUR CLOTHES ARE BIGGER, THEN WE DESERVE MORE SPACE! 

Monday, April 21, 2014

The Big Unknowing Bus and I Call BS!

There are times you learn things from a book, the internet (that can be iffy) or the news (even iffier these days).  Most of the time what we learn is from rotten, twisted, beautiful, glorious life. The best lessons come when you didn't know you needed to know something that you didn't know. That’s when the big Unknowing Bus comes to screeching halt at the end of your driveway. BEEP BEEP. Get on bitches! 

We never know where we’re going but, according to my optimist friends, it’s all about the ride, right?


At times like these all you can do is piece together some ugly patchwork quilt of that yellow Holly Hobby bedspread you had when you were 7, orange peels, old carpet remnants and candle wax that you hope and pray and hopeandprayandhopeandpray will resemble order and common sense.  The hope is that the end result will make you look all smart, like you knew what you were doing all along. Nothing to see here, keep it moving, people. Sometimes my inability to summon order and conjure common sense makes me cry. Or giggle. Or both at the same time. Sometimes it’s all I can do to not faint from the vapors, panic, give away the family secrets and spend the rest of my life under the covers. And drink.

But, somewhere in the midst of my mind-chaos, I must have the strength and wherewithal to call BS.

Now, in this conundrum of twisted, beautiful life when do we learn to call BS?

If you're lucky, you have some friends who are generally smarter than you and they’ll be happy to tell you all about your BS.

Take for instance my daughter's autism. I didn't know ANYTHING. If I could make that ANYTHING the size of the moon it still wouldn't encompass the THINGS I didn't know. She was six months old and missing milestones and I only knew "milestones" because of those parenting books that I poured over like they were my Bible. Young and shy and knowing NOTHING I asked the pediatrician. Old school fella that he was he just said babies progress at their own rates. I called BS. And you know what? I didn't know more than that. Just that it felt wrong. Lucky for me I had a friend who agreed on that BS and handed me the knowledge I needed at that moment.

And life goes on. Keep weaving that quilt. Get back on the *#%&* bus!

Rinse and repeat.

Marriage, pregnancy, step-children, preschool, elementary school, home ownership, middle school (aka HELL), IEPs, LREs, debt, AIG, moving, self-harm, depression, unemployment, anxiety, learners permits, death, the boss from hell, college, money, taxes, love, family, friends. Caring for my aging mom.


At each age and stage I am faced with this cavernous unknowing. It can be small things like pumping gas (yes when I moved south I didn’t know how to pump my own gas, shut up). It can be BIG things like moving your ailing mom 700 miles from home and untangling all her ribbons, tentacles and connections. Either way, big or little, the unknowing for me is the hardest part of the entire process. So here we are, 15 months after mom has moved down here, after I made HUGE life decisions for her because she was unable to do that for herself, and BLAM, that huge *%&# Unknowing Bus has stopped outside my house to pick me up again. I’ll get on, kicking and screaming, but I’ll be damned if I know where the hell I’m going.

I guess I’ll let you know when I get there. Please be waiting for me with order, common sense, drinks, giggles and a sham wow to dry my tears. Or heck, you could hop on with me. It's all about the ride, right?

I couldn't do it without you.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Kellin, the Super Symbolic Hamster

We’ve all had a helluvayear here. 

Today, the hamster died. We were devastated.

It’s a helluvathing.

And I know some of you reading this are thinking, “it’s only a hamster,” and although you are right, Kellin the hamster was a furry blob among the many other furry blobs (big and small) we cohabitate with, she had so much more meaning. She was the symbolic hamster.

No, this is not hyperbole. It is not the delusions of an English teacher gone over the edge.

Kellin symbolized, for all of us, especially C2, the ability to conquer a demon so large, so hurtful, so painful, so sad, that even typing these words are making me cry. Kellin symbolized 128 days. That little ball of fur with the beady red eyes (ech) symbolized mental health and positive choices.

So let me explain. A year ago C2 revealed to me in the Walgreens parking lot that she had been injuring herself. I like to think I reacted well, but on the inside I was confused. I was so sad. I just wanted to fix this. I may have stammered. I wanted to be full of God’s grace; I think I was not.

Let me help. Let me help you, baby.

So we got her help. And it’s been quite a journey. We’ve forayed into EDNOS (eating disorder not otherwise specified). She got really skinny. I really thought that we would lose her. I would lay awake at night and plan, and plot and check on her, to make sure she was still here, and here, present in the moment, in our family and still alive in her bed. I questioned my parenting, my marriage, my job. I considered quitting work to stay at home with her. I wanted to pull her out of school because of those bastard middle school little shits who brought her pain and heartache. I wanted to throttle the administrators and guidance counselors at her school who seemed to be so incredibly clueless and ineffective. I wanted to do….something.

Something ended up being time and patience. Something was many late nights reading about cutting, EDNOS and suicide on the internet. Something was my maniacal decision to hide everything that I thought was a potential danger in the house behind locked doors. Something was tossing her room like some Russian spy looking for the Holy Grail. Something was love. Something was tears, alone in the shower and together with C2. Something was long drives to nowhere with my baby. Something was writing her notes and leaving them in secret places. Something was watching my husband trying to cope. Something was watching my husband, who has wrestled with his own recovery for the past 28 years, relate to C2 in a way that I couldn’t.
Something was waiting for C2 to decide that she wanted to get better.  

I can’t lie and say I succeed in all of these somethings each and every day. In fact, I know I was so far from what C2 needed on some days, that I was more of a hindrance. And I also like to think that many of those days I was just what she needed. That she KNOWS that every day with her here on Earth is what I need. That she is my blessing. My everything.

So C2 decided that she wanted to get better, so we drew butterflies on our arms (check out http://butterfly-project.tumblr.com/ for more information) and talked about “triggers” and we counted days. We hung her count on the fridge. We celebrated when that number increased. 10, 42, 75, 84, 97, 128.

 And a relapse.

Talk of hospitalization. Frantic calls to her counselor and the crisis line. And then we went back to doing our somethings. We circled the wagon, kept her close to home, and we began the count again with the promise that when she reached 128 days again she could pick something that she really wanted. She picked Kellin.

So, that hamster was so much more than another furry mouth to feed. She was special. She was a reward for SO MUCH HARD WORK…WORK that C2 should be SO proud of. So, yeah, we’re overwhelmingly SAD that she died. And YES, I let my kid stay home from school today and eat ice cream and watch an entire season of Glee because she was SAD because that was a SOMETHING, the something that she needed today.

C2 – can you pick a new reward that can’t leave us!

*There are over 2 million people in the United States who self-harm. Of those 2 million, the majority are young girls, although it does affect boys too.
Know the signs, open a dialogue, get help.

Dear C2:
I cannot express how proud I am of you. Your journey is yours, so thank you for letting me share this. Know this for certain, you are MY LOVE, MY LIFE, MY EVERYTHING. I am so blessed that God sent you to me. I am so happy that you chose to stick around, to get healthy, to keep moving forward, one step at a time. I am thrilled that you put up with me, my uncoolness, stupid jokes and sometimes thoughtless words. Know this, each and every day that I am here on this Earth, I am here to keep you safe. I am here to love you. No matter what you do, you can’t EVER shake this mama bear. So, thank you for choosing to get better. Thank you for being you. Xxx000

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Misnomers and Fallacies of the "Inner-City" School: Why it drives me crazy to work here....

First of all a disclaimer (on my own personal blog) that my opinion in no way reflects the opinion of my employer or my colleagues, although I bet you a million bucks that many in those two groups would agree. Does that ruin the disclaimer?

The following reasons are why it drives me nuts to work at an inner city school. It's not all the name is cracked up to be.  I love my school, I love my job, I love my students, my friends, and my colleagues. In fact I love everything about my school.  So, to those of you who have ever said or thought any of the following, we don't need your pity, your hate or your sympathy. Just remember what you put "out there" has a ripple effect, like a pebble dropped in a pond. Words are like toothpaste, once they're out of the tube it's impossible to get them back in.

1. People automatically assume that an "inner-city" school means more than the label connotes. We are a school. We are located in the "city" however this in no way implies that we are unsafe, that we are made up of delinquents or that we are failing our students. Quite the contrary. We have 1600 of the most amazing, fun, talented and intelligent students under our roof each and every day. Our students go on to the best colleges. They are competitive both academically and athletically.  Just ask some of our famous alumnus; Trot Nixon, David Brinkley, Roman Gabriel, Sonny Jurgensen, and Jay Ross. We have quite a few state titles to call our own, 33 and counting. We don't have bars on our windows, graffiti on the walls or security guards posted in each hallway. We are not riddled with drugs, gangs or crime. We are one of the oldest high schools in North Carolina. We are statuesque, we are beautiful, so when someone hears "inner-city" they think "Dangerous Minds" or "Stand and Deliver."  I am here to tell you...this is not the movies.

2. When people hear where I work they say, "I'm sorry." WHY ARE YOU SORRY? My dog didn't die. You didn't ding my car in the parking lot. However, you are implying that there is something horrible about my job, and it is so insulting! Hey you! You work at the bank? I'm so sorry. You're a dentist? Ooooh, I am SO sorry. Drive a truck? That sucks.Yo Pope? It must really be a drag to serve God's children. #sorryyouworkatthevatican.  I am never sorry that I work here. As a result of #1 and the negative media propaganda that surrounds my school (see #3) people think it's a horrible place to work. We are safe. We are happy. We are a school doing great things, every minute of every day. I am surrounded by the best educators I have ever had the honor of knowing. Why else would I have sent both my children to this school? Let's get something straight: teachers don't have to stay at schools they don't like or where they don't feel safe. Don't insult us with your pity.

3. We have no successes. I mean we can't because they are never celebrated in the media, right? I don't turn on the news and hear that two of our students received full rides to some of the country's most prestigious colleges or that our amazing athletes are being scouted by the top universities in the country. No, the lead is usually a crime or incident in the neighborhood which MUST include the name of our school  EVEN THOUGH IT HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH US. Our school is in the city, just like Starbucks, the county library and the Fluff-and-Fold. Focus on the crime, not what it's near. Why? BECAUSE IT SENDS EVERYONE INTO A PANIC and THIS IS HOW WE GET A BAD RAP! (see #1,2,3). My God, it never ends. Our school has safety measures in place just like every other school, however when every lead in the news mentions the name of our school in relation to the location of a crime, it it is viewed as one and the same. It is unnecessary to give the location of a crime and then say it's so-and-so blocks from the school. Stop making us all seem like the same thing - we are not interchangeable and should not be lumped in together. School+Building+Students IS NOT EQUAL TO  Crime+Off-campus+gangs+drugs. We are not responsible for what our student body does off campus on their own time, just like my employer isn't responsible for the carton of Cadbury Eggs I ate or when I ran that red light (I swear it was yellow). We have enough responsibilities as teachers so don't tie the criminal and the crime to my SCHOOL. The guilt and sadness that overwhelm us when one of our "kids" gets in trouble is too much to bear and you just make it worse.

4. Our kids are all gang members, drug dealers or juvenile delinquents. Nope, nope and nope. Just no. Just STOP. They are teenagers, they lose their minds sometimes, they incite drama, they fight, they make mistakes, they have issues, but show me another high school where this isn't the norm and I will eat this keyboard.

5. We must not have school pride.  I do not know one student in any of my classes over the past 8 years who hasn't been proud to go to our school. We bleed black and orange. We pack the gym for basketball games. Our stadium shakes and rocks under those Friday night lights. We have learned to celebrate each other - we understand that if we aren't our own biggest cheerleaders no one else will be. Our school has an amazing history, a loyal faculty and high standards for education. When the focus is always on the perceived negatives (and mostly imaginary at that) it's hard to convince the public that there are any positives. Ask our parents, ask our teachers, ask our students; we are THE PLACE TO BE!

We are a family. We have weathered everything imaginable and we stand here, together, willing to work hard for ALL of our students, for their education, their well-being, their success. Never forget that. What more could a community want for a school? A building is just a building; it's what we do in that building that matters the most. 

Don't sell us short.