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Skipping Stones is Turning 20!!!!

Twenty is a charm! To celebrate our 20th year, we will honor 20 students by publishing their poems, stories, art, etc. in our Volume 20 issues. These 20 students will also get a set of 20 back issues, an award certificate and a complimentary copy of the issue in which they are published.

Entry Rules: Include with your submissions a cover letter, parental permission, your e-mail or telephone and mailing address for receiving the issues.

Send your best creations by 12/20/2007!

Art/Photos: 20 cm x 20 cm or 20" x 20"
Nonfiction/Opinion Pieces: 20 sentences
Short Stories: 20 words or 20 sentences
Poems: 20 words or 20 lines.

Skipping Stones
Vol. 19, no. 4
September -- October, 2007

ISSN: 0899-529X

Welcome to the 2007 Youth Honor Awards issue! As usual, the selection was hard to make because of the quantity and quality of entries. For example, we received 124 amazing entries from the Na'au School in Hawaii! So, rather than selecting one specific student from the school, we are honoring all the students from the school. Similarly, we honor Ms. Young's third grade class at the Carrollton School in Miami, Florida. Congratulations to all the participants and teachers who continue to encourage their students to enter the awards year after year! Many more youth award entries will adorn our upcoming issues' pages!

2007 Youth Honor Awards!

Inspired by Nature

  • Nature Poetry
  • My Casita in Costa Rica: Way into Nature
  • Why There Are Waves: New Creation Story
  • Kewei's Cap
  • Mother's Day Deer for Maya
  • Back to School
  • Leaving for School
  • Teacher for Hire
  • Health Rocks!: Stress!?! • School Year
  • A Tradition of Teaching
  • The Translators from Form III
  • Two Months to Learn Chinese
  • It's Hard! • Academies, Uniforms • Smiles
  • Middle School Bonfire • Memories
  • Arriving Home After School
  • Hungry Anthropologists

Regular Departments

Editorial

Fall is a time of return—of cooler weather, warmer clothes and of a more set routine due to school. There's usually a sense of excitement and change in the crisp air. Resolutions are made for the new school year that this will be the year that I will do better in school, surround myself with good friends, make the school team or play, or become a better writer.

In the natural world, it is also a time of return. Soon you will see migratory birds coming back or passing through your area on their yearly migration. One of my favorite parts of fall is seeing the swallows come back from summering up north. As I am biking home, I often stop at a bridge that crosses a river and watch them swooping. They skim the water with urgency. They are always hungry after such a long flight and they know they have farther to go to reach their new seasonal ground.

There is another amazing happening every spring and fall close to my house. Vaux's Swifts, birds somewhat resembling swallows, funnel in the thousands into a chimney of an abandoned school building. It must be still and cozy in there as they snuggle down for a night to rest their wings. A smart hawk sits and takes one each night, then is satisfied. What if someone tore down that "unused" building? The Vaux's swifts would be affected, and so would the hawk—until they found other places to sleep and other sources of food.

While I have always enjoyed noting the movements of birds each season, this year, I move as well. Does a place hold your memory? Is it different because you were there? Those are questions I often pose to my classes on the last day of school. One of my students told me recently that she didn't like going back to her old town because all she had to talk about with her friends was old memories, and it felt awkward and sad, because she remembered having such a good time there. It seems we want places preserved as they are in our memories, but the place itself wants to keep growing and changing.

Will my town be different if I return? I expect so. Will my town be different because I was there? I don't know, but I hope I made some positive contribution. Will I be different because I was there? Yes. The city I am now leaving and my work with Skipping Stones have both helped to make me who I am now. I am different and better because I was there. Having stopped to notice birds migrating helps me now—I feel it is okay to leave a place when it is time. You feel when it is time to move, it is as though the place says: "It's okay to go now, but don't expect me to stay the same if you return. I might be different. I might not have the same chimney for you anymore. But you'll find something else here, and it might be better than the chimney."

As you start school this fall, whether it be home-schooling, public school, or a new school, it will be different because you've grown and changed and become a more complex and interesting individual. If some things shuffle around, if you find yourself growing apart from an old interest and taking on a new one—it is life, it is change, and it is good. When facing the uncertainty of a new school year, do it with the right intent and take a brave leap—like the birds do when they set off on migration. You and the place will both be different. Enjoy the newness!

-- Nina Forsberg, now lives and works in Connecticut.

If Only One

If one hand joins the other,
we could help someone in need.

If one heart mends another,
we could change the world.

If one idea combines with an action,
we could make a statement.

If one spirit was lifted,
we could bring joy in one's life.

If one voice was heard,
we could make a difference.

-- Alyssa Wozniak, 13, Pennsylvania.

New Year: Start Fresh

Different teachers,
Different tests,
Even different friends.
The most difficult year, by far.
Work is piling up, quizzes and tests every other day.
There are no breaks, no timeouts.
Uncontrollable anger.
Panic attacks from too much stress.
Pressure coming in from all directions.
Nowhere to run, nowhere to hide.
Learning to deal with it.
"You're not a little kid anymore," they say.
It's not going to get any easier.
Got to stay on Honor Roll and make parents proud.
Have to make them happy.

-- Kathy Eshoo, 13, Illinois.

Kathy says: "I like to express myself and show people the true me. I do that through writing. I speak English and Assyrian. I am loud and lively, always having a smile on my face. I like to make people laugh and smile. It brings me joy to see people happy. I wish and hope for happiness for everyone that deserves it, and justice for everyone who needs it."

DEAR HANNA

Dear Hanna,
     I am beginning high school this coming fall. I will be marked for life: a winner or a loser. I don't see myself making a success of it!
—Tyler

Dear Tyler, you may already have received varied advice: become strong and physically able; develop one or two close friends to hang out with in school; excel at a hobby which will help you stand out in the crowd; read good books. If so, it's not bad advice. But, I want to point out to you that I hear an assumption on your part that schools are based on competition, dividing losers from winners.

Many schools may be just so, but that is by choice, not by necessity.

I am in daily, close contact with an alternative high school, consisting of sixty students, six full- time and four part-time teachers. This school is based on everyone being accepted and accepting one another. This school is based on community.

Acceptance into the school is based on each student's agreement that: it is the student's own choice to enroll in that school; each student commits to resolving conflict non-violently; each will seek to create an emotionally safe climate for all.

The success and advancement of each person is the aim in this community. Words and deeds of encouragement and caring are treasured by the one who receives them. These gifts of support flow from teacher to student, moving gently from one person to another. This style becomes the nurturing language of this community. Vital to the strong core of this school are the relationships between teachers and students and school head. Teachers are not hired principally for their factual knowledge of a field of study. Of course that is considered, but teachers are hired for their ability to have a strengthening, inspiring and healing relationship with each student. Subjects for study and discussion within that school arise out of all kinds of material: the interest of a particular student, life experiences, news items, an experiment, music, art, etc. Likewise, from freshmen to seniors, students participate in classes together. No "older" senior lords it over a "younger" freshman.

When a student does engage in unfortunate activity, such as attempting to steal money out of someone's purse, a community meeting is called. Students and teachers sit in a large circle. Usually a student facilitates the meeting. The conversation is likely to flow somewhat like this:

A: "Why would anyone do such a thing????"
B: "What need does this person have to do such an act?"
C: "How can we help that person know they are accepted?"
D: "How can we help him not to need to act in that manner?"
E: "When she comes back to school tomorrow, instead of us acting strange and avoiding her, we can make her feel that she securely belongs to this community."

Tyler, the school I describe is Wellsprings School in Eugene, Oregon. I recommend that you visit alternative high schools and that you look for one where you can blossom, rather than accepting one where you fear being judged a failure.

In Peace,
Hanna

For Parent & Teachers:
Bullies & Victims: On Being Dissed

Disrespectful and sometimes abusive, bullying is one of the many challenges that students face today. Students can get bullied due to factors such as race, social status, sex, age, disability, physical features, or being otherwise different. Bullying can take the form of name calling, teasing, fighting or attacks, taking money, vandalizing belongings, and may result in anger, fear, sadness, insomnia, lack of appetite or withdrawal from activities. Falling grades, mood or habit changes, drug or alcohol problems or self-esteem issues may also result.

There is a fine line between bullying, school violence and violation of human rights. Bullying even violates some of the articles in the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights. For example, Article 12 of this declaration states: "No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honor and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks."

To empower your students against bullying, you may wish to share the following advice with them:

  • Be kind and respectful to yourself and others. Minimize or avoid contact with people who diminish others.
  • Believe in yourself. People can make you feel inferior only with your permission. If you strive to be a good person each day, no one can diminish you on the inside.
  • Practice withholding judgments of yourself or others. Take the time to get to know people to end gossip (myths).
  • If you are a bystander, report incidents of harassment to an adult. You will not be tattling. Rather, you will be alleviating the suffering of another student and creating a support network for someone in need of your empathy and compassion.
  • If, as a bystander or victim of bullying, you do not get help from one adult, continue to look for an adult who can help and seek support from family and friends.

If students, teachers and parents everywhere work on this issue, eventually there will be less school violence in the U.S. and around the world. Everyone has the right to live in peace on Earth—free from harassment and intimidation.

-- Patricia Wong Hall, educator, Oregon.

 

Send your questions or comments to:
Dear Hanna c/o Skipping Stones
P. O. Box 3939, Eugene, OR 97403
 

Skipping Stones Magazine
P.O. Box 3939
Eugene, OR 97403 USA.
Telephone: (541) 342-4956