Alexus Steele: Our books, our future – La Tribune

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Dear Lawrence County,

Here at Fairland High School, our school board challenges basic principles of democracy.

Our elected officials are supposed to fulfill a duty to their constituents, respectfully listen to their problems and unite to find a common solution.

However, during the board meeting on November 15, our board members treated their constituents with complete disrespect. After banning the book “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian,” the school board refused to listen to the thoughts of teachers, students and parents.

After receiving a complaint from a parent regarding the “sexually explicit” content of the chapter “Because geometry is not a country close to France”, the school board ruled that this content is too extreme and vulgar to be considered. read in our schools.

“The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian,” by Sherman Alexie

Let us tackle the problem head-on. Junior says: “Yes it’s true, I admit that I masturbate.” Junior is a 14 year old boy who says the same thing every high school student has said once in their life.

I can see the worry that parents can see with this language, yes masturbation is “sexually explicit”, but everyone is participating in it.

Throughout the meeting, board members constantly emphasized how uncomfortable this topic was; However, wouldn’t you like to talk about the issues that make you uncomfortable in a moderate and safe environment?

While studying at Fairland High School, I read a variety of books that made me uncomfortable, but we have to learn to be “comfortable being uncomfortable” in order to grow taller.

Teachers in the Fairland Local School District taught me and their hundreds of other students the importance of talking about conflicting issues. Our teachers also taught us the importance of talking about our problems with civility and respect and of listening in the same way; this is why the students who attended the council meeting were so taken aback by the actions of all the council members, Mr. Sowards, Mr. Gorby, Mr. Lewis, Mr. Ward and Mr. Appleton.

From the start of the meeting, the board members casually acted at the words of those who rose to speak.

The first woman to speak was Ms Sansom, a highly skilled professional and an English teacher for over 20 years at Fairland High School.

We all watched the council members talk to each other, play on the phone, roll their eyes, bang their heads on the table and so much more as she gave her speech.

As Ms. Sansom continued to talk about the importance of not banning books, school board members failed to show her any form of respect, even going so far as to cut her off several times to force a yes or no without allowing an explanation. .

Despite the actions of the men on the board, Ms. Sansom remained calm, calm and collected and spoke civilly about her point of view, the same way she taught us. At the end of her speech, student Kaitlyn Fleming and I stood up to speak our truth and educate the board members, the people who haven’t read the book, of the authenticity of ” The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. “

Once again, as expected, the students were greeted with disrespect.

Everyone on the school board is so obsessed with the single page of the passage that they are naive about the novel’s serious and relevant themes.

Junior is a 14-year-old boy who has alcoholic parents, struggles with poverty and anxiety, and is not accepted by his tribe and his new classmates. Junior’s best friend Rowdy struggles to express his emotions and uses his tenacity as a coping mechanism. Junior’s girlfriend is struggling with bulimia.

The students in this book suffer from real-life issues that students at Fairland High School and students around the world grapple with.

According to the OHYES! Survey, produced by the State of Ohio to assess adolescent mental health and work to improve our schools and communities, 34.25% of students in Lawrence County have anxiety issues that warrant exploration further by a mental health professional. In Lawrence County, 62.9% of students said they did not always feel safe in their schools. 26.01% of Lawrence County students suffer from depression.

The appeal of “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian” is that it talks about issues that so many of our students in our community suffer; being a 14-year-old boy, Junior relates to his high school readers more clearly than any psychology book on mental health issues or any teacher.

This story teaches our teenage comrades that we are not alone in our feelings. The novel allows us to recognize that other people in our world and our community are struggling with similar issues. Junior gives us the strength and encouragement to speak up and ask for help.

The board seems so engrossed in this single fragment of the page, that they fail to see the beauty in the rest of the book (because they haven’t read the book).

I want to present to you and the board members the specific quotes that touched me and my colleagues: “If you care enough about something, it will make you cry. But you have to use it. Use your tears. Use your pain. Use your fear. Going crazy. “” I draw because I want to talk to the world. I want the world to take care of me. I feel important with a pen in my hand. I feel like I could become important as I grow older. “It’s one of the simplest sentences in the world, only four words, but it’s the four biggest words in the world when put together. You can do it. I can do it. Let’s do it.”

There are countless quotes in this text that resonate with the students, quotes that encourage the students. “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian” teaches important lessons on a variety of issues, which makes the ban unrealistic.

Junior’s Life is a game about how to keep going, how to use the challenges in your life to motivate yourself, how to convert your negative energy into positive light, and how to encourage others to participate in the changes that you are. .

This is the lesson I want my kids to learn, this is the lesson I want my classmates to learn with them in the real world. I urge Fairland High School students and community members to use the negativity of Mr. Ward, Mr. Sowards, Mr. Appleton, Mr. Gorby and Mr. Lewis posted in our community on November 15th, and to transform it into positivity by expressing the change.

As Junior would say: “You can do it. I can do it. Let’s do it. “

Alexus Steele is in his final year at Fairland High School.

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