Wednesday, October 9th, 2013
Kevin Breel, at age 19, has given a TED talk in which he’s painfully honest about living with depression as a teenager, and feeling that stigmas that surround mental health were stopping him from asking for help. More from Today.com:
Like many of the 121 million people worldwide who suffer from depression, Breel said he was leading a double life. In high school, while everyone else saw a happy popular kid and star on the basketball court, deep inside there was a boy tortured by intense pain that kept ratcheting up.
“I’d look at the school,” Breel told Geist. “And I would know in my head that, ‘I’m about to walk in there and smile, laugh, high-five people, and put on a total front.’”
If you haven’t been depressed, there’s no way to understand it.
“Real depression isn’t being sad when something in your life goes wrong,” Breel says. “Real depression is being sad when everything in your life is going right.”
“I felt like I couldn’t be happy,” Breel added.
He believes his depression was triggered by the tragic loss of a best friend coupled with the divorce of his parents, and he turned his feelings of loss and anger inward.
“I started to, in a way, hate myself,” he said. “I felt so unhappy and I couldn’t explain why or justify why to anyone. So I didn’t feel like I could talk about it.”
As a teenager he used sports as a way to escape his pain. But his successes, instead of making him feel good, only underscored how bad he felt.
“We had just won a high school basketball championship, and I was leading scorer of the tournament,” Breel said. “I was first team all-star, and our team won the championship. I had everything that I had thought of for four years. And I realized that that wasn’t going to take away my pain.”
See Breel’s whole TED talk here:
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Friday, September 6th, 2013
Battery-powered e-cigarettes, which deliver nicotine through a vaporized mist rather than a lit cigarette, are gaining popularity among middle school and high school students, according to a new national survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The survey showed that one in 10 high school students said they had tried the devices within the last year, which was double the number who said they had tried them in 2011. The New York Times has more:
In total, 1.8 million middle and high school students said they had tried e-cigarettes in 2012.
“This is really taking off among kids,” said Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the C.D.C.
E-cigarettes are battery-powered devices that deliver nicotine that is vaporized to form an aerosol mist. Producers promote them as a healthy alternative to smoking, but researchers say their health effects are not yet clear, though most acknowledge that they are less harmful than traditional cigarettes. The Food and Drug Administration does not yet regulate them, though analysts expect that the agency will start soon.
Thomas Briant, executive director of the National Association of Tobacco Outlets, which represents 28,000 stores, said the study “raises too many unanswered questions,” for the data to be used for policy making. It was unclear, for example, whether students who tried e-cigarettes were using them regularly or only once. He pointed out that selling them to minors is now illegal in many states.
One of the biggest concerns among health officials is the potential for e-cigarettes to become a path to smoking among young people who otherwise would not have experimented. The survey found that most students who had tried e-cigarettes had also smoked cigarettes.
But one in five middle school students who said they had tried e-cigarettes reported never having smoked a conventional cigarette, raising fears that e-cigarettes, at least for some, could become a gateway. Among high school students, 7 percent who had tried an e-cigarette said they had never smoked a traditional cigarette.
Dr. Frieden said that the adolescent brain is more susceptible to nicotine, and that the trend of rising use could hook young people who might then move into more harmful products like conventional cigarettes.
Image: E-cigarette, via Shutterstock
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Thursday, June 6th, 2013
Dylan Meehan and Bradley Taylor, seniors at Carmel High School in New York state, are receiving widespread media attention after they won “Cutest Couple” in the school’s yearbook. Though the school did not publicize–or think there was anything unusual about–the same-sex couple receiving the award, the news went viral when it was posted to the Internet. More from CNN:
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And until the news went viral, the decision, says Carmel Principal Kevin Carroll, “hasn’t really been a big deal in the school.”
“I thought at this stage as we are now, it shouldn’t be a news event. All the reactions are coming from outside. The yearbooks were distributed Wednesday, and we didn’t get any calls until someone posted it online,” Carroll, whose school is about 65 miles north of New York City, told CNN Tuesday.
Taylor, 17, said he sees the honor as a great achievement and a turning point for their school.
“At first we weren’t able to run because for the title, they were only allowed to pick a boy and a girl,” he told CNN. “But a bunch of our friends made an uproar, and they changed it. So now you vote ‘student one’ and ‘student two.’ And I guess a lot of people voted for us and we won. So many people came up to us saying, ‘You guys are going to win.’”
A mutual friend introduced the two last year during a Brown University visit. Later on, they started dating.
“I came out to my family a week or two after I started dating Brad,” said Meehan, 18. “He was the one encouraging me to come out to them.”
“I feel like both of our families always knew but I told my parents a month before we started dating,” said Taylor.
Wednesday, May 1st, 2013
A group of high school seniors at Wilcox County High School in Georgia are making national news after they organized a formal prom dance that is racially integrated, something that hasn’t happened in the town’s memory. CNN.com has more:
For as long as most remember, Wilcox County High School hasn’t sponsored a prom for its 400 students. Instead, parents and their children organize their own private, off-site parties, known casually as white prom and black prom — a vestige of racial segregation that still lives on….
Mareshia and her friends bucked 40 years of local customs this month by organizing their own integrated prom, a formal dance open to Wilcox County’s white, black, Latino and Asian high school students. Organizers, both black and white, said they lost friends in the process — a grim experience in the waning weeks of the school year. It’s been hard on the rest of their hometown, too.
When the story erupted on TV and social media, Wilcox County became a symbol of race relations stuck in the past. People around the world heard about the sneers from some classmates, the silence from some adults, the school board that says it supports them but didn’t sponsor its own prom. Thousands lashed out at the old tradition or offered up kind words, cash, dresses, a DJ. Stunned, they wanted to know, could this be true? In 2013?
Segregated proms are a longstanding reality in this farming community 160 miles south of Atlanta, and until recently, at several schools nearby. Some in Wilcox County say it’s just an old habit that’s hard to break. A few argue the proms are private because of cost and liability or because parents won’t cede control. They say people “self-segregate,” and kids can’t agree on country or hip-hop, “white music” or “black music.”
Some say some preachers and some parents implicitly encourage segregation, but there’s no point to arguing: People are entitled to their opinions, even if they’re racist.
Plenty here shrug off the debate entirely and say a high school dance is nothing to make a fuss about.
Mareshia is 17, a good student, a cheerleader who’s active in the Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps. She knew long ago that proms were segregated, but she didn’t think much about it till last year, when she and three friends first realized they’d be split up.
“How do you want your last moments of high school to be,” Mareshia asked herself then. “What do you want your memories to encompass?”
Image: Diverse group of prom-goers, via Shutterstock
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Monday, April 15th, 2013
An upstate New York state school district has apologized after a high school teacher gave his English class an assignment in which students were asked to write from the perspective of Nazis, arguing that Jews are “evil” and the source of the German government’s problems. More from CNN:
The assignment from the unidentified teacher was designed to flex students’ “persuasive writing” skills.
But Marguerite Vanden Wyngaard, superintendent of the City School District of Albany, called the assignment “completely unacceptable.”
“It displayed a level of insensitivity that we absolutely will not tolerate in our school community,” Wyngaard said, “I am deeply apologetic to all of our students, all of our families and the entire community.”
She told the Albany Times Union newspaper that one-third of the students refused to complete the work.
The teacher has not been in school since the district learned of the assignment.
The school district is considering disciplinary action, according to Ron Lesko, director of communications. Options include termination, but no decision has been made, Lesko said.
In the assignment, students were to pretend the educator was a member of the Nazi government.
“You must argue that Jews are evil, and use solid rationale from government propaganda to convince me of your loyalty to the Third Reich!” the teacher’s assignment sheet said.
The assignment reiterated, “You do not have a choice in your position.”
Image: High school students writing, via Shutterstock
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