Dear Clarkston Community Schools Families,
A while back, I stumbled on an NBC News feature called "My Kid Would Never Do That." Producers put kids in different scenarios, rolled hidden cameras, and then invited parents to watch as their children responded. You can Google the episodes, but I didn't need to watch even one to know how parents would react to seeing their child do something they never, ever imagined they would do.
My years as a school administrator have given me too many opportunities to sit beside parents and guardians as they shake their heads in disbelief, saying, "my kid would never do that." I am here to tell you that even good kids with involved parents make poor choices. I'm also here to tell you that these choices often lead to personal reflection and growth, not only for the students but also for parents and educators. As dangers present themselves to youths on a seemingly daily basis, we must continue to evolve in our response to those dangers.
We know that nationwide concerns like vaping and substance abuse (including experimenting with prescription drugs and harmful mind-altering homegrown or synthetic drugs) have not escaped us here in Clarkston. This particular problem is an epidemic that doesn't seem to be slowing down. Since August, there have been 71 confirmed vaping-related lung injury cases in Michigan, according to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. Three of those cases resulted in death.
We also know that our students' digital lives have the potential to take a worrisome turn. Just today, one of our secondary administrators said, "I wish parents knew that most of the disciplinary issues we see originate with students' phones." She gave examples of misdeeds that were collaborated by text or Snapchat, conflicts that began online and later erupted at school, regrettable photos and videos that can't be taken back, and risky ideas that were mimicked on TikTok for the sake of "going viral." Phones also give access to predators who draw upon the trusting nature of children to gain access into their private lives.
My intention for writing to you today isn't to scare you, but to open up a discussion about the complex lives our kids are living, and to partner with you to better support student well-being in and outside of our schools. I encourage you to have an ongoing dialogue with your children too, regardless of their age - it's never too early or too late to start.
We are working hard to take a "human-informed" approach to understand why students engage in troubling behaviors and we're examining ways to work with you to keep Clarkston kids safe. I won't pretend that we have all the answers, nor will I promise that your child won't do something you never imagined they'd do; however, you can be assured that the best minds in the district are joining forces every day to provide all the tools necessary to stay one step ahead in this ever-changing landscape. We will keep you abreast of our efforts, and in the meantime, we encourage you to explore the student well-being resources that we have compiled on our website.
Superintendent of Schools
About Clarkston Community Schools: Clarkston is a highly regarded school district with an enrollment of nearly 7,100 students. We have seven elementary schools (K-5), one middle school serving grades 6-7, one junior high for grades 8-9, and Clarkston High School, which serves students in grades 10-12. We also have an Early Childhood Center serving children ages 3-5, and an alternative high school/community education facility. Clarkston Community Schools students are well-prepared for a future that excites them, and believe that they can achieve their dreams. The mission of Clarkston Community Schools is to create a learning environment where students, staff, and families are challenged, healthy, engaged, safe, and supported.
Read more Clarkston Community Schools News at www.clarkston.k12.mi.us/news.
Media Contact: Mary Ellen Rowe, Marketing Director (248) 623-5460.