6/12/12 To Whom It May Concern:
Community involvement has been the center-point of schools and other public institutions for many generations. I was proud when given the opportunity to speak at my school during the graduation ceremony, and I regret that they feel I am no longer fit to do so.
I feel that I have taken the lessons of so many before me to take my education and put it to work, and to get to know the people who live around me. I intend to finish my education, and I have been doing so on my own time, independently, self-starting, and acting with the greatest discipline I know how to—because so much of my free time is spent on projects that I believe in.
North Haven High School and many others who are part of their network would like to replace my voice with someone else’s. Perhaps my worldviews, and the actions that I have been taking to organize a house in Fair Haven Connecticut, do not fit with their program. If this is the case, I’m not even sure what their program is any longer. If we are no longer being taught to be active participants in our own lives, and in our neighborhoods, what could it possibly be?
What other message is so much more important than love thy neighbor that perhaps I may have overlooked it in my statements?
Generations before mine always say to get an education, because in the end it’s the only thing they can’t take from you. I would have liked to share that with my classmates, and to share the education I have been getting from my neighbors.
So why do I feel that I deserve to speak at my graduation from North Haven High School when I have not even been there for the past two months?
“No one has yet realized the wealth of sympathy, the kindness, and generosity hidden in the soul of a child. The effort of every true education should be to unlock that treasure.” -Emma Goldman
This was not the case with my education through the North Haven School System. I lived in North Haven for 18 years, and have always been in the public school system. I have always been on the honor roll, am a member of the national honor society, Latin honor society, and Tri-M society. I am an all-state trombonist, first chair in orchestra, jazz band, and concert band. I have always been involved in the musicals, art shows, and sports events. I was even part of the High School soccer team. According to NHHS, my GPA is a 4.12. I have always been in all Level Three and AP classes. Needless to say I always did everything I was told. I followed the status quo in order to make my transcript abundant in extracurricular activities, and “difficult” courses.
Up until November of 2011, I learned from NHHS that the point of school was to get good grades, to get your GPA higher, in order to get into a good college, so that you can end with a sustainable job that will make your life “comfortable”. More money, the more comfort and joy you will have. That was what the school system taught me. Then I woke up. I took the red pill (Matrix reference). I was now embracing the painful truth of reality.
How did I wake up? I became friends with this outgoing, intelligent girl with dreadlocks at my art school in New Haven. This girl was the one who brought me to Occupy New Haven and left me there alone since she needed to go home for dinner one day. I was scared out of my mind as I sat there in the wooden hut with tarps wrapped around it with complete strangers smoking cigarettes sitting around me laughing and talking. Then I started to realize that they were talking about really interesting things that I really never heard of before such as Monsanto products, the NATO summit, and the ultimate “goal of life”. More importantly, there wasn’t the pettiness or immaturity that I face on a daily basis from the adults and kids in my school. These were actual real people. I went home after that day, did my homework, and came to a huge realization. I had just spent 5 hours doing my AP homework, and I didn’t learn one thing. I did the homework so it would be checked off in my teacher’s grade book so my homework grade in the class wouldn’t drop so my GPA wouldn’t drop so that I could get into a good college which would ultimately get me a good job which made me money. There is a huge emphasis on “success” rather than acquiring knowledge; this is such a perversion of the educational system.
The way I saw it was that basically the school was defending other student’s right to remain ignorant. The way that the adults in NHHS segregated themselves in the school implied that my safety was dependent by my ability to conform, and to become a sheep in a herd of obliviousness. Being different, seeing yourself as an equal (to the staff), and questioning what we are learning made their jobs harder. Bringing up questions and topics such as racism and LGBTQ rights were seen as issues that don’t exist anymore. No one seems to have a problem talking about bullying for some reason, but anything beyond that was seen as inappropriate. Real-world issues were seen as illusory fairytales. North Haven High School passes on 10% skill and knowledge, and 90% obedience, apathy, blind faith, and an entire value system based in domination and submission. I’m done letting them brainwash me. The function of NHHS’s government is to centralize power and impose domination: to enforce: to punish: to administer.
Like Morpheus said: “The Matrix is a system, Neo. That system is our enemy. But when you’re inside, you look around, what do you see? Businessmen, teachers, lawyers, carpenters. The very minds of the people we are trying to save. But until we do, these people are still a part of that system and that makes them our enemy. You have to understand; most of these people are not ready to be unplugged. And many of them are so inert, so hopelessly dependent on the system that they will fight to protect it.”
Once I started questioning what the point of school was if I wasn’t learning, and I no longer had an interest for college, I realized the cold hard fact that there was absolutely no support for students seeking a less traditional course of action after high school. There was no longer a single person in that school that was able or willing to help me research college alternatives. Not even fellow students.
I constantly felt marginalized or forgotten, and they would tell me that it was either my own fault or in my head. I did not like this feeling. Maybe I’m a sensitive person. Maybe I’m not.
All I know is that now that I left NHHS I am constantly learning, always smiling, and laughing all the time. I am learning to be my own person, and to stand up for what I believe in, even if authority figures do not agree with me. I am no longer afraid to stand up for myself. I have made so many connections with people who want me to use my skills in a productive way. I was given an internship for a website made called GiftFlow, (GiftFlow.org). I have been going to police brutality meetings, and making connections with people all over the country that I met from the NATO conference in Chicago.
However, with all of the positives of my new lifestyle, there are still negatives.
There are plenty of more negatives that I could think of, but these two are the ones that get to me the most. However even with all of these problems that I deal with on a daily basis, I am always surrounded by people that love me. These people make everything worth it. Every beating we take together only bonds us further; every verbally abusive comment from my classmates and teachers is immediately diffused once I talk to my family (roommates).
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