Carpe Diem-Meridian – Wetting Appetites for Service
By Kayla B. Mayhugh, Carpe Diem-Meridian sophomore
Being a Carpe Diem-Meridian student has renewed my passion for education. It has also instilled a passion for giving back through community service. Students in Action (SIA) is a public service program for schools founded by the Washington, D.C.-based Jefferson Awards. SIA has been at Carpe Diem-Meridian since day one, and it has evolved a great deal over the past few months. We recently won the Gold Medal in the Jefferson Award's regional competition, where we presented to a panel of judges about our public service projects. As the Gold medal winners, we receive $1500 and get to travel to the award ceremony in DC in June. This is a huge accomplishment for a first-year school! Our SIA sponsor, Alyssa Starinsky, is one of the most passionate people I've ever met. It's obvious to everyone who knows her that she truly wants to make the world a better place, and she thinks that children have the power to do it. When she says "we are the future," it stops being a cliché and becomes inspirational.
SIA has brought almost our entire student body together through various service projects, including a Thanksgiving dinner we hosted last November at the Julian Center, a shelter for victims of domestic abuse. A core group of our SIA members joined the Julian Center cooking staff to create a Thanksgiving meal for the mothers and children at the Center. We prepared turkey, gravy, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, mixed vegetables, fruit salad, and apple crisp — all handmade! We also ran a game room for the children. For a few hours, their mothers spent some time enjoying a well-deserved rest. By preparing a meal for those less fortunate, we realized that not everyone has access to the luxuries that we do. Though we couldn't provide everything that a Thanksgiving has to offer, we gave deserving women and children a fun, family-style dinner that will hopefully stay in their minds as something more. To us, the meal was our first big project, and it only wet our appetites for more service opportunities.
Lil' Leaders is a leadership retreat that SIA is organizing and hosting for the children of the Julian Center. We believe that the children have great potential to be great leaders, and we want to give them the opportunity to hone their leadership skills while they're still young. Instilling these skills in children makes for better leaders as they blossom into adulthood. To make a lasting impact on these children, we're not going to preach to them about the importance of leadership and service; we're going to play games with them. Through these games, we're going to show the children, and our younger members, how to use their leadership and communication skills to the best of their ability. We're still in the early stages of planning, but we know that the retreat will teach us, as well as our young participants, a lot about the important of service. Our website, www.CDStudentsInAction.org, goes into greater detail about our projects and opportunities for the community to participate in our service events.
The Students in Action program is a life-changing opportunity that I didn't have at any of the other schools I've attended. Carpe Diem-Meridian has made me not only passionate about education, but also the power of service. Sophomore Amanda Wilcher has said "SIA has strengthened [her] networking, communication, and speaking skills" during her time at Carpe Diem. Many of our other members have called Students in Action "life-changing," and I can't help but agree.
Carpe Diem-Meridian has molded me into a better student while Students in Action has molded me into a better person. While each is fantastic in their own right, a combination of the two is priceless. With passionate teachers and caring students, any school has the potential to be a good one. Carpe Diem-Meridian has found the perfect balance of each and managed to make school an enjoyable, amazing experience - while some kids still dread going to other schools. An eighth-grader turned freshman, Sydney Pedigo, says that she'd never go back to a traditional school because of the "lack of opportunity." One of our seventh graders, AbobakrAbedelmalik, likes the "blended learning" aspect of Carpe Diem. When asked about Students in Action, he muses, "Students in Action has honed my communication skills, and taught me to collaborate." Many of our students have become passionate about schooling, and now seek to further their education. I know that, as a freshman, I had no idea what I was doing after high school. I honestly wasn't sure if I'd even do anything. Now, as a sophomore, I have a clear plan for my life, and I couldn't have done it without Carpe Diem.
About Carpe Diem Indiana
Carpe Diem Learning Schools are tuition-free public charter schools using a personalized blended-learning model to educate 6-12th grade students. To learn more about Carpe Diem-Meridian, located at 2240 North Meridian Street, prospective students and parents may schedule individual tours.Call 317-921-7497 or visit the website, www.carpediemmeridian.com.
Lord Acton said it best.
"Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power tends to corrupt absolutely," he wrote.
Republicans in the Indiana General Assembly seem to see Acton's words not as a caution, but as an endorsement of their education plans.
A few days ago, the House Education Committee – on the strength of a party-line vote – approved measures that would strip Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz of much of her authority.
One would have taken away much of her authority to oversee Indiana's voucher program. House Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, and education committee chair Rep. Robert Behning, R-Indianapolis, later dropped that bill for the time being. They said they'd talked with Ritz and she had reassured them that she would administer the voucher program fairly.
Behning said he had introduced the bill to send a message – presumably to Ritz. It was pretty simple: "Heel, girl." Apparently, it was received.
Another measure would require her to defer more to the state board of education and the Education Roundtable.
Yet another would do away with automatic dues collection for teachers' unions.
Not surprisingly, Democrats aren't thrilled.
"This is very political," Rep. Shelli VanDenburgh, D-Crown Point, told The Indianapolis Star.
That's true enough, but saying something at the Indiana General Assembly is political is a bit like saying rain is wet – not exactly a penetrating observation.
More precisely, this is power politics at its most raw.
The three measures the education committee passed have little to do with enhancing the quality of the state's schools and a lot to do with quelling dissent. And the measure to prevent dues from being collected is about nothing more than busting unions.
When Lord Acton made his observation about power and corruption he was referring to the papacy's successful attempt to assert infallibility in the 19th century.
Indiana Republicans may not be saying flatly that they're infallible, but they're definitely signaling that they aren't to be questioned.
When Ritz won the superintendent's race last fall, she knocked off incumbent Republican Tony Bennett – the darling of conservatives and other education reformers who want to remodel the state's schools with market principles as the blueprint.
Republicans were enraged by Bennett's defeat.
They responded at first by arguing that Ritz's victory was the fault of their favorite punching bag, teachers' unions.
Besides being a tacit admission that the GOP hadn't done much to encourage teachers to vote for Republican candidates, that argument overlooked one key fact. There aren't nearly enough teachers in Indiana to sway a statewide election all by themselves, so a lot of parents had to have voted for Ritz, too.
Given that much of the moral authority for Republican support of, say, school vouchers comes from the fact that they say their measures empower parents, that argument put GOP lawmakers in an awkward position. Republicans found themselves contending that they were empowering parents by ignoring parents' votes.
So they moved to another argument.
Republicans said that because they won the governor's office and racked up supermajorities – quorum-proof majorities – in both the House and Senate, it meant that Hoosiers really supported their education agenda.
That argument is, uh, novel.
The superintendent's race was the only one in the state that focused exclusively on the state's education policies. In that race, Indiana voters expressed, at best, misgivings, doubts or questions about the GOP's education reform plans. At worst, the voters rejected those plans.
Every other race dealt to some degree with education policy, but also with a lot of other issues.
Yet Republicans contend that the one race that focused entirely on education isn't a valid indicator of the voters' views about education policy, but every other race somehow is.
Perhaps because they realized that this latest argument also was untenable, Republicans then decided to dispense with arguments altogether.
No, that's not exactly right.
They reduced their argument to its most basic level. What they're really saying is: "We've got the numbers to drive anything we want through the legislature and we control the governor's office, so we're going to do whatever we want, regardless of what the voters might think about it."
That's what the attempts to clip Ritz's wings and break the teachers unions are about.
Republicans don't want discussion, dissent or disagreement when it comes to education policy. They think they're invulnerable. And they're on the edge of saying they're infallible.
That Lord Acton was right on the mark more than 140 years ago.
And he still is on target today.
John Krull is director of Franklin College's Pulliam School of Journalism, host of "No Limits" WFYI 90.1 FM Indianapolis and executive editor of TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.
Imagine being born in the wrong body and feeling so ashamed of what is between your legs, something that haunts you every minute of your mid-pubescent life, and then being told by society that you are mentally ill. Imagine being born with an obvious attraction to the same gender. You're a male ninth grader, surrounded by hormonal teenagers constantly discussing romantic interests and physical attractions. In most schools, that ninth grader would be silent and thus, slowly deteriorating, wanting nothing more than to detach from his homosexuality.
Teenagers in schools face daily torment, regardless of their sexuality and gender. Being a teenager is hard enough: We are all trying to find comfort in our bodies. But being a lesbian, gay, bisexual, and/or transgender teenager is even harder. A national survey by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network reports that 84 percent of American LGBT youth at school are victims of derogatory slurs specific to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people. These degradations are extremely painful. Americans who aren't accepting of the LGBT community need to reconsider their beliefs, whether that's religion, politics, etc. There are American citizens who end their lives because of this. This is not a political view, but rather a moral obligation. These are human beings who are suffering.
When people talk about discrimination with regard to the LGBT community, they often only consider same-sex marriage and legal issues. While these prominent issues should continue to be discussed, people often disregard the most elementary foundation of LGBT hate.
This is why my friend, Emma Troughton, decided to start a campaign. It then became a passion shared by three high school sophomores, including Naomi Farahan and myself as managers.
Our campaign, One Million Teens for LGBT Rights, focuses on a number of issues. A few of those focuses are: bullying of LGBT teens in schools, general perception and acceptance issues of American LGBT members, and eliminating derogatory LGBT insults that have become mainstream.
Our campaign managing board is comprised of one lesbian, one bisexual, and one ally; we are passionate about this injustice, so we started a campaign through Facebook called One Million Teens For LGBT Rights to rally our generation behind this vital cause.
One Million Teens For LGBT Rights is focused on motivating and mobilizing teenagers. In 2013, with all of the advocacy outlets and immediate social connections made available by social networking, the teenagers of America can help create equality with the tools they know best. One week later, the page has garnered several hundred members, including Tillett Wright, famous photographer and LGBT rights activist who recently appeared on Ted Talk, and Janet Mock, a writer and LGBT rights advocate.
The three of us are very lucky to go to a school where we can be ourselves without fear of being judged.However, this is not the case in all schools – not even in the majority of schools. We hope that our group provides hope for everyone in the LGBT community. Nobody is alone in this fight for equality.