Dealing With Death In High School

For the second time this school year, our high school suffered a death in the student body.  Dealing with death in high school is unfortunate, but not new.  What is different I suppose is the way generations handle the loss both in person and on social media.

During the last week of the summer a boy in 16.5’s junior class killed himself.  We live in a small school district and the kids were clearly upset.  (I tend to think some of the energy spent on grieving was reflective of others in the grade.)  Instagram accounts were full of tributes to the boy.  On the community pages on Facebook there was sometimes (in my opinion) over wrought hand wringing asking how could this happen here? How could the signs be missed?

A couple of weeks ago, as winter break was ending tragedy struck 14.5’s freshman class when a boy was rundown (accidentally) crossing a major roadway near our house.   There’s probably more to the story – but you can see the reaction of the kids in all of the grades at the high school the loss was felt.

When I took 14.5 and some of her friends to the corner 24 hours after the accident to leave flowers and remember their friend – each took out their phone and commemorated the moment on Snapchat.  Back on the community pages of Facebook was the same hand wringing asking how could this happen here?  In this case, there was also a link to an accident a couple of years ago that claimed another life.

Perhaps – one day – the intersection will be made safer.  Perhaps one day the lessons of the immediate past will be learned and used.

For now though dealing with death in high school is a generational process – and it plays out across social media.  I can think back to my high school days, I can remember four of my classmates passing during my years at Carey High School on Long Island.  One was murdered, one (maybe two) died from cancer and one was in a car accident.

Dealing with death in high school in the 80’s though was (in my opinion) a much more solemn moment – not commemorated with pictures and posts – but with shared memories and a few hugs.

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Living In The World We Live In

social media school threatShortly after I got both girls out to school this morning, as I sat down to plot out my day and finish a cup of coffee in came a call from the school district.  It was from the line they use for robo called – ConnectEd they call it.  At that time of day, this is usually an innocuous call – report cards are released, athletic events at the school, PTO fundraiser.  Today it was not the case.  Today was a lesson about living in the world we live in for my older daughter.

This morning’s call was about a “numerous reports” of threats to the school.  Here is the text of the message from the school principal:

Good morning this <the> Principal of the high school to inform parents of a threat to the school circulating on social media.   We have received numerous reports of a “threat to the high school” being posted to social media.  To this point there have been no specific information posted or brought to our attention as to where the threat originated or what the threat is.

At this point we have increased our security presence at the high school and have contacted our School Resource Officer from the 6th Precinct who will be reporting to the high school.

I like parents of all the kids in the high school had a HUGE decision to make on almost no information.  It was interesting to see how things unfolded in the parent groups on Facebook and Pinterest – and some ran for the school to get their kids, others pontificate about the state of our society and some offered prayers.

In a decision I made – which I am not overly concerned being reflective or not of the rest of the community we live in – I decided to leave 15.5 in school, monitor things (not via social media) and be ready in case something came up.  My thought simply is this is the world we live in, and we need to live in – not be afraid of it.

Similar to going to NYC amidst “heightened” terror threats or air travel during these times – this is the world we live in, and we need to be living in the world we live in.

While parents lined up (and complained on social media about the disorganization) to get their kids from the school – I checked in with our police precinct.  It was looking more and more like the threat was a hoax.  I don’t want my daughter to be afraid of the things she’ll face in life, I want her to be smart and confront them.

I am not a reactionary thinker:

A reactionary is a person who holds political views that favor a return to the status quo ante, the previous political state of society, which they believe possessed characteristics (discipline, respect for authority, etc.) that are negatively absent from the contemporary status quo of a society

And I don’t want my children to be.  I’d like to think I am deliberate in my thinking and hope to share that trait with my girls:

To deliberate means to carefully think or talk something through — it also means slow and measured, the pace of this kind of careful decision-making. If you chose deliberately, you make a very conscious, well-thought-through choice.

Admittedly, I did hedge.  I changed a couple of morning meetings to calls so I could be closer to home.  As the morning wore on and it became clear things had calmed down at the school I jumped back into the day as planned.  As I was heading toward my new office came the next ConnectEd call offering some further explanation:

You may be aware of a rumor that circulated yesterday evening, March 9, 2016, via a social media group message. After a thorough investigation by the <edit> School District, it was determined there was no confirmed threat to the high school or any school building within the District. The circulated social media group message never stated a threat was scheduled to occur; instead, it consisted of multiple parties asking if other recipients had heard of any possible risk.
As a precaution, the District involved the <edit> County Police Department, who confirmed there was no credible threat. Nonetheless, as an additional precaution, the District has increased security presence at the high school today, March 10, 2016.

As parents we all have to make decision – sometimes snap and often with little information and few facts.  I try to be consistent in decision-making – deliberate and not reactionary.  I want to teach my kids about living in the world we live in – not in an idealized past or non-existent Mayberry.

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Style: Teaching Moments and Decision Making

Breaking Bad + Hunger Games As the girls’ wrap up their first week home from camp, I’ve made a bunch of realization and some things I know resonated as lessons learned, and a lot of that has to do with media consumption-go figure.  It all started when I realized 13.0 was watching Breaking Bad on Netflix.  As a huge fan of Breaking Bad, I know it carries at TV 14 rating.  She told me about a meme of Gus with half his face blown off she saw as drawing her to the show.  I wasn’t (and I’m still not) ready for her to watch Breaking Bad.  But I want it to be her decision, I just told her I thought there were better things for her to watch.  I see it as a teaching moment and helping in the decision-making process.


Over the summer while at a movie, I saw a coming attraction for the second movie in the Hunger Games storyline, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire.  Last March, it was a then 11.0 (now 13) who asked me to take her to Hunger Games on opening night.  This November, it will be 10.5 who wants me to take her to the sequel.  Not completely age appropriate, but it’s a teaching moment and helping in decision-making.

As a parent, I try not to censor the girls in what they watch, read or do.  I hope I have done my job and can help them make good decisions.  I don’t have to like the decisions they make, but I will support them.  So, we’ll probably see the new Hunger Games movie, and I’m pretty sure 13.0 will get back to Breaking Bad.  What’s important to me is they are thinking about what they are doing, and making good decisions.

And, as I did after The Hunger Games movie, I’ll spend time with 13.0 talking about Breaking Bad and the story lines.  After we see The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, I’ll spend time with 10.5 talking about the story.  That’s my job.

It’s not as much about what they decide to watch, or read.  It’s about the decisions they make getting there, and what their thoughts about it after they see it that matter to me.

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Reviews, Promotion and Shameless Behavior

So admittedly, I am somewhat shameless in my self promotion and I am good with that.  Very early on in my career I learned the value of self promotion from former NYS Assemblyman Sam Colman.  Mr. Colman’s office would put out press releases nearly every day-and almost any subject.  The why when I asked Mr. Colman one day, “If I’m not out promoting myself, no one is.”

As I think it’s the case with most bloggers, I get a couple of email contacts per week from people looking for promotion-the ask is for me to do a product review.  Usually it’s a mobile app or website, sometimes it’s a physical product and randomly (based on time, level of effort and personal interest) I will agree.

Lately though, I’ve been asked to do reviews for a couple of dating/hook up type websites.  I have some history working with dating sites (I consulted for one when I left CBS last year) but that’s not very well-known.

Generally, this blog gets good traffic and is well targeted so it is appealing for certain brands.

While I am not sure I want to spend a lot of time reviewing dating websites (a subject for, I  another blog post) I guarantee I am not spending money to review your site or your product.  The inner journalist in me will not accept money for writing a review.  But the pragmatist in me will not expend money (and time) to review your product either.

And this is the shameless behavior.

I ask people to download my book-but I don’t offer a coupon.  I ask my friends (people I know directly) to write me up a review as well.  I hope everyone writes a review for my book.

But I’ve never even considered sending out blind emails to a blog owner and giving them a link to my book, asking them for money and then saying please give me a nice review. That’s can’t be the business model for some of these sites, can it?  It certainly does not seem sustainable and seems like it would be a waste of human bandwidth to send out those emails.

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I Am Now Officially Old

With some regularity I deny being old.  Whether is physical, mental or emotional-I just don’t feel old.  I’m not as spry as I was 20 years ago, but I am not old.  At least not until my beloved New York Islanders felt the need to add an official tattoo parlor.  For the first time as parent I am ready to say that’s enough.

For background for those who do not know-I work in and around sponsored media.  I am a huge proponent of freedom of the press and major backer of the First Amendment.  But this corporate sponsorship may be enough to make me say there are no more visits to the Nassau Coliseum for me and the girls for a hockey game.

I have an opinion on tattoos-but this has nothing to do with that.  I also have an opinion on beer sponsorships, the semi-clothed Ice Girls and sushi at the arena.  But this has nothing to do with that.

No, this is about a family event that now has a red-light district.  I can hear Roger Luce now on PA during the game, “Brady Bakery the official cupcake of the New York Islanders is now available in between periods outside Gate 5.  And while out on the concourse, take a trip over to Gate 10 and get some ink from Tattoo Lou’s the Islanders’ official tattooist.  And along side Tattoo Lou’s make sure to get your official Islander’s leather thong from Lingerie Diva, the official team lingerie of the New  York Islanders.  And fans don’t miss out, Glock is the official handgun of the New York Islanders.  Get a background check now at Gate 1.”

Yeah, that sounds semi-family oriented.  Perhaps the Islanders can set up a red light district for sponsors at the Coliseum?  It would open fresh new revenue lines for the cash (and arena) strapped team.

Maybe in the area behind the visiting team bench they can set up an S&M section for bondage during the game.  Masters and Mistresses can keep a captive audience so the seats look full on TV.

It all starts someplace-and for me, I think my path to old age starts here.

So, let’s go Islanders.  I’ll be watching all season.  It’s pretty unlikely though that I’ll be at a game, and very unlikely it will be the family event it’s always been.  And now that the team is getting better (finally), that’s too bad.

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Some Social Commentary

Warning-I am going to break format here and offer some social commentary-but not about social media.

Yes, there is no Twitter, FB, MS or Plurk in this post.

Instead, I want to talk about the $4 bagel, supply and demand, and price gouging.

In a not uncommon occurrence, I missed my train this morning, giving me about 40 extra minutes at the train station. Tired, hungry and bored, I set out for some breakfast. There is a DD at the station-but I hate DD.

So, since I had time to kill, I headed over to the bagel place. And for the first time in my life as a New Yorker, I experienced a $4 bagel (granted with coffee).

Now, I understand fully the concept of paying for convenience and simplicity. But as I was thinking about this, and eating an incredibly mediocre bagel–even that argument broke down.

Bagel and coffee from the guy at the top of stairs when I get off the subway $2.25.  That is convenient.

Bagel and coffee from the place I go when there are two or more on line at the coffee cart (I have a problem with lines) $3.25.

Bagel and coffee at the POS LIRR train station–1/4 mile from the station platform $4.00.

There is something terribly wrong with this math–as George Bush would say, its fuzzy math, bordering on voodoo economics.

And now back to your regularly scheduled blogging–don’t worry, I’ll Twitter this to make it seem on point.

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