The lucky people who attended Monday night's joint presentation by Bob Houghtaling's TLC group and volunteers from the Teen Center got the yin and yang of the teen experience. It was impressive.
The Teen Leadership Consortium (otherwise known as the TLC) got the evening rolling by breaking into three different groups, with TLC members sitting in with each group directing the discussion in three areas: school stress, social media, and communication.
The idea came out of a TLC meeting earlier in the fall, when several students talked about the expectations they feel from school, their parents, and even themselves. Monday night's event was a chance to do just that – to try to talk to parents as a group directly and let them know how it feels to be a teenager in 2012.
The teenagers were remarkably open and surprisingly supportive of parents' attempts to wean their kids off social media, for instance.
"It's going to be a struggle, but it's worth it, it's definitely worth it," said one student about the need for parents to make their kids turn away from Facebook, Twitter, and text messages while they do their homework.
"They have to have boundaries," said another student.
One parent voiced concern about her child being forced to use social media for homework assignments, but the teens said teachers made exceptions for those kids. Although they also suggested it was not helpful for kids to be excluded from something that's now so pervasive.
When it came to communication, one student told parents not to argue with their kids when they complained about a teacher. "Let us," she said. "Just listen."
Another student urged parents to re-think how they handle a child's disappointing test grade.
"Instead of, 'That's bad,' try 'You did poorly – how can you do better next time?'"
Several students said their favorite day of the week was Wednesday because it starts a bit later and they have Advisory. Advisory is a period in which the same group of students meet with a particular staff member once a week. They can talk, play games, study.
"Advisory is so relaxing," said one student. "It's such a stress reliever."
Interestingly, despite all the angst about overscheduled kids, a couple of students noted they do better with a full schedule than when not much is going on.
"An object in motion stays in motion," said one student.
The second half of Monday night's program was devoted to three young men who'd attended EGHS but had trouble while there. While two graduated, the third ended up dropping out.
While all three had difficult roads during high school, each of them said their lives were on the right track now. Their stories were powerful – to see them in action, watch the video attached here.