Saturday, April 25, 2009

Suicide is never a solution

Recently at my school we had a video for our students to address the topic of suicide and how it is never a solution. It is a permanent answer to a temporary situation. Unfortunately, this topic hits close to home, since we lost someone we loved to suicide. When it happened it nearly killed me emotionally, not to mention other members of my family.

Since I don't know who will someday read this, I want to stop here and say emphatically, God loves you. Many people love you and you are not insignificant. You may be hurting, but there is healing for your pain, and there are many many people who need you and the world will never be the same without you.

The video that we saw portrayed two young people going through really significant trials at home. One was very despondent and hopeless, the other was angry. In both cases they had alerted others to their problems, and had mentioned suicide as a solution. One even made a friend promise not to tell anyone. This is the kind of promise you should never keep. Fortunately, in the video one alert kind teacher was able to reach out to the student and help him, but the other was not as fortunate. Sadly she left a huge void in the lives of all who loved her.

Some signs of someone suicidal:
They are depressed continually.
The person has big problems with no easy solutions.
They seem hopeless.
They may change from participating in their normal activities, and become careless with what is important to them, and become isolated.
They may share their plans.
They may begin to give away their most valued possessions.

Don't take any of these changes or behaviors for granted. Follow your gut feelings. If you suspect someone is suicidal realize this is a problem too large for only one person to handle. Get others involved. Below you will find some telephone numbers where you can find some help. My students put them in their cell phones and were going to go home and share with their parents. I hope these numbers will become a lifeline for many.

Boys Town National Hotline


Community Assistance Resource Line


Speak Out Hotline


Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Bithlo Brush Fire Continues


Not more than ten miles away the Bithlo Brush Fire continues to flare up and enlarge. This picture was taken from a friends house in Waterford Lakes. I hope it gets contained soon.
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Here is a link to the Orlando Sentinel article of the fire fighters' progress.

The Bithlo fire is almost 90 percent contained according to the Orlando Sentinel today, April 27th. That is good news because this morning when I opened my garage door, I could smell the smoke inside my enclosed garage. Not a good feeling. I am glad the situation is getting better. Yesterday as I drove back from church in the evening I could see smoke from the fire drifting west along and above 408 north towards Oviedo. So yes, good job to all those fire fighters with many of them coming from as far as Tallahassee, I heard. Good job.

Unfortunately, there is now a fire further north in Deltona, which threatened a home. The residents were inside and smelled the smoke as it entered the air conditioning unit and when they went outside to investigate they found their house on fire. Wow that must have been alarming. They immediately started hosing down their house and were able to put out the fire and everyone was able to exit the house safely. Could you imagine that?

What I'm Listenting to these days

This is a Yahoo video of Building 429 singing Always.

Unwelcome Attention

I am so proud of the school where I work. The academic environment is challenging and proactive. Today we had the neatest activity where students and teachers who had read many young adult novels gathered to basically hold literature circles to discuss them. It was so exciting to see so many students and teachers talking about relevant Young Adult novels. My table was on A Long Way Gone, a novel about a young man's struggle to survive in the face of unspeakable war horrors and depravity. It is a story about the triumph of tenacity over incredible odds. It also portrays the anguish of a country, Sierra Leone, involved in a bloody civil war.

So this morning it was surprising and jarring to find that some seniors (we think it was seniors) decided to rock our boat, so to say with a Senior Prank. One of my best friends at school had her classroom furniture rearranged. She was not alone. In fact about 10 portables (after I viewed the video) had their classrooms opened. As I drove into school there was a chopper situated directly above our campus filming the incident. It was unwelcome attention, where so many other good things are ignored. But it is what it is. Find the news at the link

In spite of all the attention, one really good thing came out of the prank. Many able body school personnel, including administrators, teachers, and support staff got on the task of getting the desks down and in their correct place inside the classrooms and ready for school without incident. Our relieved principal praised their efforts just in time for school to start.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Brush Fire in East Orange County

Driving home I cut through Rt. 528/ The Beachline up to where it meets with RT.520, which in essence cuts diagonally until it reaches state road 50. As I approached Bithlo on 50, I noticed some billowing pinkish-gray smoke towering some 3 or 4 miles away. It didn't look that ominous but apparently it was. A great deal of families had to be evacuated from their homes and sheltered at Corner Lake Middle School. See the story at


I was typing in a new blog entry when I realized I had done a really dumb thing. In my settings I had enabled transliteration into Hindi. I thought that would work when someone wanted to the text translated but instead everything I typed turned into Hindi. Amusing but befuddling. Not funny. Disabled!

Walk for Autism 2009, Ft. Lauderdale


I drove down to Ft. Lauderdale straight from school on Friday afternoon, and made it into town at about 8:00 in the evening. Making terrific time. Not everyone was as fortunate because I noticed that there was an overturned truck going north on the Ronald Reagan Turnpike some 60 miles north of Miami which had all the lanes blocked and traffic backed up for miles. I felt so fortunate, but so sad for those on the other side of the street, not to mention those involved in the accident.

Why did I go? Well, I was invited. Invited to participate in an event, held at Nova Southeastern University campus in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, that touches close to home. You see my niece's son, has autism. He has shown remarkable improvement due to the fact that he was diagnosed early. He is a sweet intelligent little boy who is a delight to be around. At only five years of age he already reads and writes, and now is doing much better than other so called "normal" children his age.

But he is also fragile. Loud noises which we would take for granted bother him. He doesn't do so well in big crowds and too much stimulation overwhelms him. Behavior modification and constant good choices, are part of everyday life. So to know him is to love him. And I am so glad he is part of my family.

He has some of a broad spectrum of symptoms that can describe an autistic child. The condition can be mild to more severe. And if you had the chance to interact with these children and their families you would understand that they need more support. The weight on parents to find the services and meet the needs their children require is monumental and it really bothers me that more is not being done to help them.

In fact the purpose of this Walk for Autism 2009event was not only for those affected by Autism to have a united voice but also to draw attention to this condition and its causes. In addition it also served to educate those who are not directly affected and make all of us aware of the need for funds for research. Do you realize that of the prevalent childhood diseases, Autism is only given 5% of the funds to help them fund research? That is an outright shame.

Look at the pictures of the families. Look at the children. They are the picture of tomorrow. Each of them has a story and a future to be written. Then there are so many yet to come, that can be spared this hardship. There are so many reasons to support this organization. I hope you will.
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