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Students address school board

By Staff | Mar 18, 2012

What is wrong with kids these days? What can they be thinking, anyway?

Well, for some kids, they are thinking a lot about the right things.

Take for instance, the recent Blue Earth Area School Board meeting.

BEA High School principal Jack Eustice brought along three visitors a trio of freshmen at the school.

The three are part of Sharon Van Kley’s peer helping group and are called “Freshmen of Influence.” Van Kley is the youth development director at BEA.

Eustice introduced the students and then stood back as the three each took turns addressing the board.

I don’t know about you, but when I was a freshman that would have taken more guts than I had yet developed at that age.

As a junior, maybe. A senior, sure. But a freshman? Not going to happen.

But these three showed no qualms or nervousness as they stood before the board, the school’s current and new superintendents and members of the press and said what they wanted to say.

Madeline Jenkins says the teachers at the school do a good job of teaching students about respecting others.

She told the board there is bullying at the school, but that programs like Mrs. Van Kley’s peer helpers has made a difference for many students.

Connor Thielfoldt spoke about the patience of teachers at BEA, even when it is tough to keep students in line some times.

He says upperclassmen are respectful of his freshmen class, for the most part.

“There is a lot of Buc Pride in this school,” he told the board members.

Thielfoldt says he feels there are two ways he can influence his fellow students.

One is to help those who need help. Any kind of help.

The other way is to lead by example and not join in on bad behavior, such as laughing at inappropriate jokes or heckling of other students.

“I want to be a better leader at BEA,” he says.

Elizabeth Ellis told the board she came to BEA two years ago as a new student.

She grew up on an island the size of Blue Earth and was very nervous about leaving it and going to a big school.

She spent some time at a school in Florida before coming to Minnesota.

The best thing about coming to BEA was that a student was assigned to her, to help her adjust to the new school.

She also says the teachers really care at BEA.

One difference, however, she says, is that in Florida teachers and students could intervene when they saw something happening such as bullying that was not right. Unless it was not a safe situation, of course.

The rules there were that students were encouraged to stand up for what was right, and not worry about getting into trouble for doing so.

That is not the case at BEA, she said.

Ellis suggested that a Big Brother/Big Sister type of program would be a good thing to have at Blue Earth Area. That would help older kids mentor younger ones.

It would help show students how to be respectful of one another and could help stop any bullying that is going on.

These kids were very good speakers and had obviously given a lot of thought to what goes on at their school.

It is good to see that kids are willing to speak up about their concerns.

Like any school, Blue Earth Area has problems with bullying. It is something that has been going on for years and years at schools everywhere. I can relate a few personal incidents from 50 years ago. More than likely every person has a story they can tell.

Smaller kids, ones of a different racial heritage, or are physically different (big ears, for instance) get picked on by others sometimes.

But, just because it happens everywhere, doesn’t make it right. And doesn’t mean it should be ignored.

BEA schools are approaching the issue and planning programs to try and combat the problem as much as possible.

These student groups such as Freshmen of Influence are one way. A special program about bullying set for later this spring is another.

The difference between bullying back in my day, and now, is the digital age.

Back then, only a handful of kids would be witness to a bullying incident.

Now days it can be posted on Facebook and go viral, meaning the whole student body can be aware of it.

What are kids thinking?

They are concerned about what is going on in the world around them, and they are willing to step up and say something about it.

That’s what’s right about kids these days.

Adults could take a lesson from them.