Cottage Grove sentinel. (Cottage Grove, Or.) 1909-current, January 31, 2018, Image 1

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PERSONAL | COMMERCIAL
BENEFITS | SURETY
Friday, Feb. 2
C ottage G rove
S entinel
SOUTH LANE AND DOUGLAS COUNTY'S MOST AWARD-WINNING NEWS SOURCE SINCE 1889
WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 31, 2018
(541) 942-0555
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SPORTS
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He
They know what you call them
No
au
bla
bla
"BAD KIDS"
But they're taking back the title because this is their school. And their story.
On an early September morning, the staff of Al Kennedy High School gathered in a room at the South Lane School District offi ces. The Sentinel had
approached the district in the prior weeks about chronicling the teachers and students at Kennedy to tell the story of alternative education through the lens of
those on the ground. District administrators thought it was a great idea. Kennedy staff had questions. Eight educators sat in a room with a newspaper editor
and had a conversation. At the end, they’d come to an understanding: The truth is the truth and the kids come fi rst. Over the course of the 2017-2018 school
year, the Sentinel will tell the story of these educators and their students as they navigate a location change, funding gaps and the unfortunately true narrative
that sometimes working hard isn’t enough and an education doesn’t fi x everything. We’ll tell stories of triumph, tragedy and truth as the tribe at Kennedy
makes the most with what it has in its continued effort to slingshot students up and over the barriers to progress through understanding, commitment and
engagement while acknowledging the reality that some kids won’t make it.
CYAN MAGENTA YELLOW BLACK
PT.III
ILLUSTRATION BY KENNEDY STUDENT HUNTER WOLFE
By Caitlyn May and Zach Silva
T
here’s nothing special about the room.
A quick assessment of it would fi nd it to be nothing
more than a closet with chairs, a couch and a giant mo-
dem that hums and heats. A space on a campus for an
alternative high school that made the move to Delight Valley for
just that. Space.
But that’s the thing about Kennedy. Everything is more than what
it looks like.
Room eight is smaller than the average Kennedy classroom. A
six-foot tall man with a decent wingspan could stand in the center
and come dangerously close to touching both walls. A meeting of
a group of 10 would be uncomfortable; 12 would have the room
threatening its seams. And yet, every Monday, Girin Guhu hosts a
pack of teenagers in the space and makes more than enough room
for their secrets, anxieties, fears, excitements, successes and con-
cerns. It’s called group and is part of the larger service package
offered by community partner South Lane Mental Health (SLMH),
free of charge.
In 2015, U.S. Health and Human Services reported that 30 per-
cent of high school students experienced some depression symp-
toms and that 18 percent had thought about, attempted or sustained
injuries related to suicide.
COMMUNITY
Mental Health America—a non-profi t founded in 1909, dedicated
to researching, addressing and lobbying on behalf of mental health
care in America—released a report that marked a jump of more than
two percentage points in the rate of adolescents with “severe de-
pression.” In 2012, the number was 5.9 percent. In 2015, it was 8.2
percent. Seventy-six percent of those kids, according to the report,
did not receive suffi cient treatment.
It’s a luxury for South Lane School District to provide counselors
on site and one that is continuously praised by administrators.
"South Lane School District is very fortunate to have South Lane
Mental Health as our partner,” South Lane School Board Chair
Alan Baas said. “The work and commitment they have made to be
present in our schools has had a tremendous impact on our students.
Addressing and supporting mental health is paramount to helping
kids succeed not only in school but also in life. This partnership has
proven itself vital."
The evolution from supporting kids to being present in class-
rooms, roaming the campus and hosting group session was initiated
largely by counselor Valeria Clarke who supervises Guhu and helps
tailor the school-based program district-wide.
“Al Kennedy was my motivation to start the school-based thera-
py. I graduated from a school like this on the East coast and the need
– my experience of getting services, having somebody available at
the school is what stuck in my mind and actually propelled me to
be a social worker and when I had the opportunity to do this, to do
it,” Clarke said, “So absolutely, personal experience knowing that
it can be of value.”
There’s currently a counselor in every South Lane school, a feat
managed by spreading resources and adding new blood whenev-
er possible. Guhu, who specializes in high needs youth, made the
switch from Cottage Grove High School to Kennedy this year and
says the differences between the schools is vast—the kids not so
much.
“When I say that four of my students at Cottage Grove are now
my students here, nothing changed within a week from when they
moved,” he said.
Clark and Guhu maintain that adolescence is the same rough sea
we all have to navigate and that 11th graders face 11th grade prob-
lems which are natural markers of development. However, recent
data suggests that there’s something a little different about 11th
graders at Kennedy.
*
The Oregon Healthy Teen Survey, produced annually, consists of
dozens of questions covering physical, emotional and mental health
in 8th and 11th graders using sample sizes at every school around
the state. In total, 11,895 students were surveyed, 23 of those were
Kennedy students.
Please see KENNEDY PG. A6
GOVERNMENT
cgnews@cgsentinel.com
(541) 942-3325 ph • (541) 942-3328 fax
P.O. Box 35, Cottage Grove, OR 97424
Corner of Sixth and Whiteaker, Cottage Grove
_______________
Soccer theft
Measure 101
South Valley Athletics
needs help replacing
stolen equipment. PAGE A3
Health funding passes by
wide margin around the
state. PAGE A9
INDEX
cmay@cgsentinel.com • zsilva@cgsentinel.com
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Calendar ...................................... B11
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Classifieds ...................................... B7
Obituaries ...................................... A2
Opinion ......................................... A4
Sports ............................................ B1
VOLUME 130 • NUMBER 27
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