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Second General Session

‘Stand Up! Change Teen Statistics’ focuses on rescuing at-risk teenagers

Have you ever noticed how much easier it is to explore a daunting topic with an audience in a musical theater setting rather than in another atmosphere? Perhaps that was the key advantage to the approach taken by the presentation StandUP! Change Teen Statistics at Saturday’s second general session at the 2011 Joint Annual Conference.

Trying to get people to help make a difference with at-risk young people was clearly the goal of this musical drama, which tours to schools and education-related gatherings with a 50-minute show dealing with topics of bullying, racism, violence, and other issues facing teenagers.

The show featured a cast of eight young actors who performed songs and routines drawn directly from interviews with teenagers on topics that concern them.

For years, sobering statistics on teen pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases, illegal drugs, suicide, and hate crimes have haunted the background of schools. But those statistics were brought to life, front and center stage, in this musical presentation.

School board members and administrators were asked to stand up to support teens in confronting these problems. Audience members were musically reminded: “I believe in you,” which was the title of one song.

The show aims to provide information, hope and help for teens and for those concerned with their well being. It conveys teen statistics on each topic that it dramatically illustrates. For example, the audience learned that, on average, one in two teens will try an illegal substance before graduating from high school.

Likewise, audience members were told that suicide is the second largest cause of death in those ages 15 to 20.

But the emotional weight of these troubling facts was brought home in memorable re-enactments of teens’ own stories on each of the topics depicted by the cast.

At the show’s end, the audience was reminded that, although “these are real stories and real statistics,” anyone can start today and make a new ending for teens, helping them to beat the odds. As the final line of the play noted, “taking the first step is the hardest.”

Information about the organization can be found at:

Prior to the musical presentation, David Messersmith, Illinois Association of School Administrators president, presided over the second session.

Addressing the assembled school board members, administrators, and business officials, Messersmith noted that public education has never been so challenging, or so exciting, adding: “It takes all of us working together to keep public education strong in Illinois.”

Messersmith also presented Peter F. Flynn, superintendent of Freeport School District 145, with IASA’s 2012 Illinois Superintendent of the Year award. Flynn has been superintendent of Freeport schools since 2000.

In addition, IASB President Joseph Alesandrini was present to introduce from the audience several IASB past presidents, including: Mark C. Metzger, of Naperville, 2008-2009; Raymond Zimmerman, of Flanagan, 2004-2005; Dennis McConville, of Peru, 2001-2002; E. Jerald Eiffert, of Mt. Zion, 1999-2000; Jay Tovian, of Villa Park, 1996-1998; Robert Reich, of Bourbonnais, 1992-1993; Barbara M. Wheeler, of Downers Grove, 1988-1989; Jonathan T. Howe, of Northbrook, 1978-1979; and G. Howard “Bud” Thompson, of Prophetstown, 1976-1977.

Alesandrini also acknowledged the passing of past president Stanton E. Morgan, of Bismarck, 1994-1995, who died on Oct. 8, 2011. He said Morgan will be remembered for helping to change the board’s governance model, which became the basis for training school board members in policy governance, an approach that is still used today.


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