Letters to the editor
Editor’s note: I was so impressed with the quality of work performed by Gruening Middle School students during their Project Citizen project that I decided to print more of their letters to the editors.
Project Citizen offered students a chance to pinpoint a community problem, research and then find solutions.
The statistics included have not been substantiated and are merely the individual students’ opinion based on their research. Letters have also been edited for length and clarity.
Read and enjoy: Many of these students will one day be the backbone of our community.
The problem we have chosen is underage drinking here in Alaska. This is a problem because there are so many minors drinking. Teens are not only causing even more problems for themselves but for other people around them. They are causing problems for the time being, but also starting problems for their future. I would say underage drinking is a pretty serious problem.
In 2010, Alaska spent $52 million on medical costs alone, due to underage drinking. Minors drink, get in a car under the influence, decide to drive recklessly and get hurt. Sexual assault is also a factor with underage drinking. So many different things can happen. I myself, already know many people that drink underage here in Anchorage.
As a class we have chosen education and awareness as our class policy. We mainly want to put “Every 15 Minutes” in all the high schools to warn the students of what can happen being an underage drinker We would just like to have more education and awareness on underage drinking in the middle and high schools.
— Taylor Williams
Underage drinking is a serious topic in the state of Alaska because most teens might think drinking underage is cool or they are depressed and want out of their own minds. The percentage of teens drinking before age 13 is around 16.9 percent.
Our class policy is spreading awareness about underage drinking. One way to spread awareness is a reenactment called “Every 15 Minutes.” Basically you make everything about underage drinking and all the consequences real to everyone else around you like your friends and family.
What our class wants the government to do is provide new ways to spread awareness like in newspapers.
— Megan Frenzel
The project our class chose was substance abuse, which deals with drugs and alcohol.
Substance abuse is widespread in Alaska, which is very bad because we could possibly become the third state to legalize marijuana. Alaska is 29th in drug overdoses and drug overdose mortality rates. Alaska also has twice the national average for substance abuse.
Substance abuse is a major problem and I have written to Rep. Lora Reinbold and informed her about what I would like the government to do.
Our class policy is having more rehabilitation programs. In Alaska, there are not enough rehab centers. Having more centers is good and hopefully will be more effective so less will be doing drugs.
I would like the government to help solve our problem by building and funding rehab centers. And also being more harsh on people when they are caught for drugs either using them or cooking/planting them.
— Ian Crawn
Four-day school week
Our project on helping budget cuts for Anchorage School District is by switching to a four-day school week. We think this is the best alternative for saving a lot on the budget. The district can save money by cutting out one of the days of school as a day off. Not having school for one day means not using buses for that day, which saves money. The district can also save money from the cafeteria because we won’t need it for the day off.
There were suggestions from some of the students that we can use the day off as a teacher collaboration day, or even as a study hall for students who might need it. Of course taking a day off means less school time for teaching and learning. But we simply extend the school days to make up for the missed day, which would only be one to one and a half hours. This means more class time and better test results. There would be more time for teachers to explain things to certain students who didn’t quite understand.
— Ashley Walsh
Four-day school week
For Project Citizen my class is attacking the problem of $23 million budget gap. We have decided to propose the alternative of a four-day school week.
We would cut Monday/Friday and extend the school day. The extra time would be added on to each individual class period, giving teachers more time to teach the lesson and answer questions. We believe this would save money on transportation. Also, the extra day off allows students to finish projects/homework more thoroughly. Studies done one schools who currently use a four-day school week show attendance rates will go up, disciplinary rates go down and test scores will go up.
— Evie Sorrell