Friday, November 17, 2017

November 17, 2017

Good evening and happy Friday!

How did we get to Thanksgiving already? Student Council finished their annual Thanksgiving food drive today and collected 60+ baskets to send to the Ashland Food Pantry. I am so impressed with the generosity of the Ashland community,  Thank you!

I am looking forward to the fun-filled spirit week next week:
The Student Council is running "spirit week" this upcoming week!
Monday, November 20th is Pajama Day
Tuesday, November 21st is Hawaiian Shirt Day
Wednesday, November 22nd is Class Color Day (Freshmen in green, sophomores in red, juniors in blue, and seniors in white.)
A reminder that Wednesday is an Early Release without lunch.  Students will be dismissed at 11:20am. 


Winter Sports Registration will close on Monday November 20th at 3pm.  If you have not registered please do so.  This winter, athletics is using a new registration system where you are able to pay electronically.  The link to City Hall Systems can be found on the front of the Athletics Website...  http://athletics.ashland.k12.ma.us/ .  Please do not hesitate to reach out to Ms. Duane or Mr. Grimes if you have any questions or concerns.  Thank you

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Thank you for your support!!

We would like your school to join our Green Student Leadership Council.  The council is comprised of students across the nation discussing ideas for environmental action and involvement in their communities.  It’s kind of like a green think tank for students! The only requirement is they meet 3 times a year via conference call. This is a great way for students to have their voices and ideas heard, as well as building networks for their future as global citizens.

This year we are excited to have two Co-presidents who are both strong leaders and look forward to connecting with other like-minded students. To learn more about who our Co presidents are, follow this  link .

We hope you will join us by signing up here.  First meeting will be beginning of December 3rd, so now is a great time to join! Please let me know if you have any questions and I look forward to having your school represented on the council.

Ashland Raises Healthy & Happy Kids
How To Stop Automatic Negative Thoughts
All kids blow things out of proportion or jump to conclusions at times, but consistently distorting reality is not innocuous. Self-defeating thoughts can trigger self-defeating emotions that, in turn, cause self-defeating actions. Left unchecked, this tendency can also lead to more severe conditions, such as depression and anxiety.
Fortunately, in a few steps, we can teach children (and adults) how to change their thinking from negative to accurate. First we must understand the causes of inaccurate thinking.
  • Jumping to conclusions: judging a situation based on assumptions as opposed to definitive facts
  • Mental filtering: paying attention to the negative details in a situation while ignoring the positive
  • Magnifying: magnifying negative aspects in a situation
  • Minimizing: minimizing positive aspects in a situation
  • Personalizing: assuming the blame for problems even when you are not primarily responsible
  • Externalizing: pushing the blame for problems onto others even when you are primarily responsible
  • Overgeneralizing: concluding that one bad incident will lead to a repeated pattern of defeat
  • Emotional reasoning: assuming your negative emotions translate into reality, or confusing feelings with facts
Going from Distorted Thinking to Accurate Thinking

Once these common negative thinking patterns are understood, you can use the three C’s to challenge them.
  1. Check for common inaccurate thoughts.
  2. Collect evidence to paint an accurate picture.
  3. Challenge the original thoughts.
“The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another.”  - William James

Friday, November 10, 2017

November 10, 2017

Good morning and Happy Veteran's Day-

I am writing from Orlando where I am lucky enough to be spending this long weekend with 32 amazing Ashland High School students (and some pretty great chaperones) who are doing service work at Give Kids the World. I am so grateful to live in a country that allows us the freedom to learn through service to others. Thank you to all of the Veterans out there who have worked tirelessly and given of themselves for our freedom. I hope we are all able to spend some time reflecting on the meaning of Veteran's Day over the course of the weekend.


At Give Kids the World, an amazing place that houses kids with life-threatening illnesses and their families while they are having a wish granted, the AHS Make a Wish Club completed their first two of six service shifts. We served in the kitchen, helped run the carousel, acted as characters in the Winter Wonderland parade, and helped children create their star, a light that will live on forever. It was moving to watch the AHS students give of themselves, they worked so hard. I am looking forward to seeing the experiences the rest of the weekend brings them. They are learning so much!


As a reminder Term I closed last week.  Grades/Report cards will be available to students and parents through iStudent/iParent at 3pm on Tuesday, November 14.  If you wish to receive a hard copy of your child's report card please email the main office at AHSmainoffice@ashland.k12.ma.us and one will be printed and mailed. 

NEASC (New England Association of Schools and Colleges) Accreditation:
NEASC accreditation is a system of accountability that is ongoing, voluntary, and comprehensive in scope. It respects differences in institutional populations, missions, and cultures, and fosters institutional change grounded in the expertise of practicing educators. It is based on standards which are developed and regularly reviewed by the members and which define the characteristics of good schools and colleges.  Ashland High School will engage in the re-accreditation process in the spring of 2020.  

In preparation for the upcoming Self-Reflection Ashland High School will be completing as part of the NEASC Accreditation process, all students, families, and faculty will complete surveys designed to provide the school with important feedback on our work. We hope to learn more about what is working well for our students and identify areas for growth and improvement.

Parents, please take time to complete the attached survey and help provide us with valuable information:


We ask that every family complete one survey. You do not need to complete multiple surveys if you have more than one student in the school. 

Every student will have an opportunity to complete the survey during the school day during the week of November 20, 2017. If you are interested in reviewing the student survey, it will be available in main office during normal school hours. If you prefer that your student not complete the survey, please send a note to the main office with that request by Friday, November 17, 2017. 

As we continue the conversation on inclusion, diversity, and trust AHS will host it's first ever Challenge Day on Thursday, November 30.  Challenge Day is a day-long interactive program that provides teens and adults with tools to tear down walls of separation, and inspires them to live, study, and work in an encouraging environment of acceptance, love, and respect.  Using highly interactive and energetic activities, leaders guide the participants through a carefully designed exploration of the ways people separate from each other, and model tools for creating connection and building community.  This powerful day will include 100 students and 25 staff members.  The event is held during school hours in our gymAny student interested in being a part of this day should contact Ms. St. Coeur.   


Auditions for the AHSTS winter production of Pippin are Tuesday, December 5 at 3PM in the Chorus Room. Callbacks are Wednesday, December 6 at 3PM. Audition information and forms are located at www.ahsts.com.


Clocker Cupboard! Ashland High School is proud to announce the establishment of the Clocker Cupboard.  The Clocker Cupboard will be an on site mini food pantry that will provide shelf staples, snacks and drinks for our students whose families may be experiencing a financial hardship impacting momentary access to food.  Access to the Clocker Cupboard will be done so with a level of discretion and confidentiality.  We have collaborated with the Ashland Food Pantry in establishing a foundation of food at this point. As we move forward, we will be looking for donations to ensure that the supply is maintained and any overstock will be donated to the Ashland food pantry.  Please feel free to send any donations throughout the year and we will be glad to add them to the cupboard.  All donations can be placed in the donation bin in the main office.   

If you are experiencing a moment in time and would benefit from a little extra, please have your student reach out to Jennifer Shiels, your child's guidance counselor or an administrator and we will ensure access to items of choice in the food pantry.  You are also more than willing to contact any one of us directly and we can prepare a bag for your child to come home with.  Unfortunately for security reasons on property, access to the Clocker Cupboard will be limited to staff and students.  If you are seeking a greater level of support, we encourage you to reach out to Cara Tirrell at Ashland Youth and Family Services at Phone: 508-881-0140 ext 3.  The Ashland Food Pantry hours are  MondayWednesday, and Thursday 9 a.m. - 1 p.m.


The YMCA will be sponsoring an Open Gym on MondayTuesday, and Wednesday of next week from 2:45 until 4:30 for any High School Student.  Contact Mr. Grimes for more information. 


Ashland Raises Healthy & Happy Kids:
Seven Phrases To Calm an Anxious Child
It happens to every child (and adult) in one form or another – anxiety. We would like to shield our children from life’s anxious moments, but navigating anxiety is a valuable life skill.  In the heat of the moment, try these simple phrases to help your children identify, accept, and work through their anxious moments.

  1. “Can you draw it?” Drawing, painting or doodling about an anxiety provides kids with an outlet for their feelings when they can’t use their words.
  2. “I love you. You are safe.”
  3. “Let’s count _____.”  Counting the number of people wearing hats, the number of tiles on the floor, or the number of kids in the room requires observation and thought, both of which detract from the anxiety your child is feeling.
  4. “I get scared/nervous/anxious sometimes too. It’s no fun.”   
  5. “If you gave your­­ feeling a color, what would it be?” Asking your child to say how they feel with a color, gives them a chance to think about how they feel relative to something simple. Follow up by asking why their feeling is that color.
  6. “Let’s have a debate.”  Older children especially love this exercise because they have permission to debate their parent. Have a point, counter-point style debate about the reasons for their anxiety. You may learn a lot about their reasoning in the process.  
  7. “Let me hold you.”  Physical contact provides a chance for your child to relax and feel safe.

Friday, November 3, 2017

November 3, 2017

Good afternoon-

Term I is just about coming to a close.  Grades will close on Monday, November 6.  Reports cards will be available to students and parents through iStudent/iParent at 3pm on Tuesday, November 14 (this is one day later than originally posted).  If you wish to receive a hard copy of your child's report card please email the main office at AHSmainoffice@ashland.k12.ma.us and one will be printed and mailed. 


As we continue the conversation on inclusion, diversity, and trust AHS will host it's first ever Challenge Day on Thursday, November 30.  Challenge Day is a day-long interactive program that provides teens and adults with tools to tear down walls of separation, and inspires them to live, study, and work in an encouraging environment of acceptance, love, and respect.  Using highly interactive and energetic activities, leaders guide the participants through a carefully designed exploration of the ways people separate from each other, and model tools for creating connection and building community.  This powerful day will include 100 students and 25 staff members.  The event is held during school hours in our gym.  Any student interested in being a part of this day should contact Ms. St. Coeur.  


Auditions for the AHSTS winter production of Pippin are Tuesday, December 5 at 3PM in the Chorus Room. Callbacks are Wednesday, December 6 at 3PM. Audition information and forms are located at www.ahsts.com.


Clocker Cupboard! Ashland High School is proud to announce the establishment of the Clocker Cupboard.  The Clocker Cupboard will be an on site mini food pantry that will provide shelf staples, snacks and drinks for our students whose families may be experiencing a financial hardship impacting momentary access to food.  Access to the Clocker Cupboard will be done so with a level of discretion and confidentiality.  We have collaborated with the Ashland Food Pantry in establishing a foundation of food at this point. As we move forward, we will be looking for donations to ensure that the supply is maintained and any overstock will be donated to the Ashland food pantry.  Please feel free to send any donations throughout the year and we will be glad to add them to the cupboard.  All donations can be placed in the donation bin in the main office.   

If you are experiencing a moment in time and would benefit from a little extra, please have your student reach out to Jennifer Shiels, your child's guidance counselor or an administrator and we will ensure access to items of choice in the food pantry.  You are also more than willing to contact any one of us directly and we can prepare a bag for your child to come home with.  Unfortunately for security reasons on property, access to the Clocker Cupboard will be limited to staff and students.  If you are seeking a greater level of support, we encourage you to reach out to Cara Tirrell at Ashland Youth and Family Services at Phone: 508-881-0140 ext 3.  The Ashland Food Pantry hours are  MondayWednesday, and Thursday 9 a.m. - 1 p.m.

NEASC (New England Association of Schools and Colleges) Accreditation:
NEASC accreditation is a system of accountability that is ongoing, voluntary, and comprehensive in scope. It respects differences in institutional populations, missions, and cultures, and fosters institutional change grounded in the expertise of practicing educators. It is based on standards which are developed and regularly reviewed by the members and which define the characteristics of good schools and colleges.  Ashland High School will engage in the re-accreditation process in the spring of 2020.  

In preparation for the upcoming Self-Reflection Ashland High School will be completing as part of the NEASC Accreditation process, all students, families, and faculty will complete surveys designed to provide the school with important feedback on our work. We hope to learn more about what is working well for our students and identify areas for growth and improvement.

Parents, please take time to complete the attached survey and help provide us with valuable information:


We ask that every family complete one survey. You do not need to complete multiple surveys if you have more than one student in the school. 

Every student will have an opportunity to complete the survey during the school day during the week of November 20, 2017. If you are interested in reviewing the student survey, it will be available in main office during normal school hours. If you prefer that your student not complete the survey, please send a note to the main office with that request by Friday, November 17, 2017. 

   

The YMCA will be sponsoring an Open Gym on MondayTuesday, and Wednesday of next week from 2:45 until 4:30 for any High School Student.  Contact Mr. Grimes for more information. 

The Winter Sports Meeting will take place Tuesday 11/7 at 7pm in the High School Auditorium.  Any student who plans on playing a winter sport needs to attend with a parent and or guardian.  There will be a brief presentation from the Assistant U.S. Attorney on social media and the personal/legal impacts regarding the misuse of social media.  You will also have an opportunity to meet our winter coaching staff and find out information about the registration process.


An invite from Senator Spilka-
Dear Friends:

Attached is a flyer to be shared with parents, educators and colleagues inviting you to Senator Karen E. Spilka’s 2nd annual SEL forum on January 9, 2018 from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Warren Conference Center in Ashland. Here’s the link to sign up: https://kesexsel.eventbrite.com

Please do not hesitate to contact me if I can answer any questions.

Thank you,
Puja Mehta, J.D.
District Director
Office of Senator Karen E. Spilka
Senate Ways and Means
617-722-1640 office

Ashland Raises Healthy & Happy Kids
The Difference Between Stress and Anxiety
Many use the words ‘stress’ and ‘anxiety’ interchangeably, but there is a difference.
Stress is caused by an existing stress-causing factor, or stressor. Stress can come from any situation or thought that makes you feel frustrated, angry, nervous, or even anxious. What is stressful to one person is not necessarily stressful to another.
Anxiety is stress that continues after that stressor is gone. Anxiety is a feeling of apprehension or fear and is almost always accompanied by feelings of impending doom. The source of this uneasiness is not always known or recognized, which can add to the distress you feel.
Stress is the way our bodies and minds react to something which upsets our normal balance in life; an example of stress is the response we feel when we are frightened or threatened.
Anxiety, on the other hand, is a feeling of unease. Everybody experiences it when faced with a stressful situation, for example before an exam or an interview, or during a worrying time such as illness. Anxiety is considered abnormal when it is prolonged or severe, it happens in the absence of a stressful event, or it is interfering with everyday activities such as going to work/school, socializing or affects your sleep or eating.
Learning stress reduction skills can help with stressors we all encounter. Learning coping skills for anxiety can help with both stress and anxiety. Some people with anxiety require professional help. Please discuss concerns with your family medical professional, or reach out to the school guidance staff if you are worried about stress or anxiety in your children.

Friday, October 27, 2017

October 27, 2017

Happy Friday!

It was a busy week at AHS starting with Courageous Conversations: Love, Inclusion, Trust Tuesday night.  We were so lucky to have Jamele Adams speak to the community and for our panelists, especially the students, to share their thoughts and opinions on diversity and inclusion at Ashland High School.  Some of their stories were powerful.  We have a lot of work to do to make sure AHS is a safe place for all students but we have some committed students, faculty, parents, and community members who are willing to do the work.  We took some more great selfies and had some great conversation about making Ashland High School the best it can be!

On Thursday night the Socios Chapter of the National Honor Society inducted 62 new members.  These students have worked hard to demonstrate the pillars of scholarship, leadership, service, and character.  It was a beautiful ceremony and we are very proud of this hard-working, caring group of 
students.
 

The senior class celebrated Halloween today with their annual costume parade.  The costumes were fantastic and so creative.  Here's a snapshot of a few, even the teachers got in on the fun.


Winter Sports Meeting will be Tuesday, November 7th at 7pm in the Ashland High School Auditorium.  Any student athlete who plans on participating in a winter sports must attend with a parent or guardian.  This year we will be rolling out a new online registration which includes online payments.  We will also have a brief presentation from the United States Attorney's Office regarding social media and teens.

Our first ever Athletic Wellness Summit, sponsored by DAET and Ashland Athletics, will take place November 15th starting at 6:30 in the High School Auditorium.  Any High School Student and their parent or guardian are welcomed to attend.  We will have presentations from local professionals on the following topics: Nutrition, Mental Health, Social Media, Injury Prevention, and Collegiate Sports.  Please plan on attending and making this a GREAT Community Event.  More information to follow.

Please see our first ever Ashland Athletic's Newsletter!  Click on the following link to access the newsletter- Clocktown Sports Volume 1, Issue 1

Is your high schooler interested in improving their global perspective, enhancing their leadership skills, and conducting service abroad? The Cape Connect Service trip to South Africa is open to all AHS students and is run through Hammer & Chisel! It will be from April 12-24, 2018. Participants will receive 25-30 community service hours. If you came to our first info session, please make sure to register at hammerchisel.org using the trip code "Clocker" by Friday, November 3! We encourage sign-ups by this date so we can get an idea of the interest level, although we will accept registrations until November 12If you are interested and were not able to make it to the first info session, students & parents are welcome to our second info session on Monday, October 30 at 7pm in Ms. Hogan's room (B115)!



Thank you for your interest in the Ashland Public Schools!

To apply as a substitute, please download and complete the attached employment application (below) and mail it, along with your resume, to Ashland Public Schools, Business Office, 87 West Union Street, Ashland, MA 01721. Once your application is reviewed you will be contacted for an interview.       
  
The daily rate for substitute teachers is as follows:

  • $75.00/day     Without a Bachelors Degree
  • $80.00/day     Bachelors Degree (proof of degree must be provided)
  • $85.00/day     Retired teachers
  • $11.88/hour    If you are scheduled as a substitute Teaching Assistant or secretary
Paydays are biweekly.  Please call the Business Office at 508-881-0156 if you have any questions.

http://www.ashland.k12.ma.us/home/announcements/ashlandpublicschoolsneedssubstituteteachersclickthislinkformoreinformationregardingthesejobopportunities

MCAS Results 
MCAS results for Grade 10 English and Math as well as Grade 9 Biology were received this week and were mailed to families today, Friday, October 27
Should you have specific questions regarding your child's information do not hesitate to contact the appropriate school.
Have a wonderful rest of the weekend and be sure to check out the Parent Flyers .


Ashland Raises Healthy & Happy Kids:
Helping Your Children Learn Social Media Wellness
Social media is a fact of life for teens and tweens. And it is not all bad - it provides access to music, shows, TED talks, cute animal videos, and an easy way to communicate and make plans with friends. But we all know it can consume kids. It is important that children understand anything they post on social media can be seen by ANYONE, but scaring them and monitoring them 24/7 is not the solution. We need to teach them to make good choices intrinsically - give them freedom and responsibility, with limits.
  1. Check your kid’s phone. This does not mean 24/7 monitoring of every post and text but make spot checks. Know their passwords.  If you find something you do not like that was sent or received, talk to your child about why you find it inappropriate — and then ask them what they think. Once they verbalize their thoughts, it allows them the opportunity to think things through and contemplate the consequences of their online activity.
  2. Be app-savvy. You do not need to have every app your children have but know how they work so you can have informed discussions about them.
  3. Help kids understand their “why”.  Encourage your kids to ask themselves the following questions:
Why am I picking up my phone?
Am I bored, am I lonely, am I sad?
Am I just uncomfortable because I’m in a room where I don’t know anyone?
Why am I posting this?
Does spending time on this app make me feel energized or drained?
Asking themselves “why” helps them make decisions that reflect  their own values and choices and slows down impulsive online communication.
4. Set clear ground rules. Talk to your kids about appropriate social media use before you give them a phone or allow them to download a new app. Once you hand it over, they’ll be too excited to focus on your instructions.
5. Create opportunities for digital breaks daily. Give your children a voice in when they will take these breaks….before bed, after dinner, in the car, certain times on weekends.  While most kids won’t admit it to their parents, an enforced break from technology could be just what they need. Research shows that 24 percent of our teens feel like they’re online all the time. When parents put restrictions on how much and when kids can use technology, it can be a relief. And remember our community challenge of not allowing your kids to have their phones in their rooms at night!

Saturday, October 21, 2017

October 20, 2017

Good afternoon on this beautiful Saturday!  

I just came in from the soccer field and it felt like a summer day instead of October 21.  While the girls didn't win it was a great way to end a week of homecoming sports.  I am looking forward to a great dance tonight after what has been a spirited week that showcased what Ashland High School is all about.  The fun the students had this week, at lunch, sporting events, and the pep rally demonstrated that we are a welcoming, supportive school community.   
This week helped to demonstrate our caring community and the highlight of my week was the all-school presentations by Jamele Adams on Tuesday.  Students seemed excited and energized by his message of Love, Inclusion, Trust.  Tuesday night as I looked through the 437 selfies I received (he had them take selfies and text them to me as part of a conversation on consent), I couldn't help think about what an amazing group of young adults I get to work with each and every day.  The level of respect they show for each other and their teachers makes me proud.  

                              
Spirit week comes to a close tonight, Saturday, October 21st, with the semi-formal Homecoming Dance from 7pm - 10pm in the high school cafeteria.  Tickets will be sold at the door for $10. All guests must arrive by 8pm and we do call home for parent permission for any student leaving before 9pm.


Here's a few of the 437 pictures I received: 

Please consider joining us for community wide Courageous Conversation: Love, Inclusion, Trust on Tuesday, October 24 at 6:30pm starting in the auditorium.  Jamele will do a short presentation, which will be followed by a panel discussion.  We will then transition to the cafeteria for a World Cafe style, small group conversation regarding diversity and inclusion in Ashland, led by our Peer Leaders.  The evening will conclude with refreshments around 8:30pm.   



MCAS Results (from the Superintendent's email)

The Ashland Public Schools will be receiving our MCAS results from Grades 3-8 and Grade 10 in the next week.  We will distribute the results hopefully by next Friday, October 27.  As you may remember the tests in Grades 3-8 were new last year and with that there will be some new reporting methods.  I have attached a letter from the Acting Commissioner of Education, Jeff Wulson, to this email.  Please review the letter and keep it handy when your student's results come home for reference.  I have also include a link below where you can review most of the same information.

What is important to note is that the Ashland Public Schools, while obligated to take standardized state assessments, do not believe these results are the sole indicator of success for your child.  The MCAS can not measure the growth of a child socially or emotionally and we invest a lot of time ensuring each child has the opportunity to grow as an individual not just academically.

Should you have specific questions regarding your child's information do not hesitate to contact the appropriate school.





National Honor Society induction is Thursday, October 26 at 6:30pm in the auditorium.

Tickets are now on sale for the AHSTS production of Museum. The production runs Friday, November 3rd and Saturday, November 4th at 7PM, and Sunday, November 5th at 2PM. Patrons may buy tickets in advance online at ahsts.com. AHSTS offers discounted tickets purchased online. All seating is reserved. For more information or tickets, visit ahsts.com.

As we continue the conversation on inclusion, diversity, and trust AHS will host it's first ever Challenge Day on Thursday, November 30.  Challenge Day is a day-long interactive program that provides teens and adults with tools to tear down walls of separation, and inspires them to live, study, and work in an encouraging environment of acceptance, love, and respect.  Using highly interactive and energetic activities, leaders guide the participants through a carefully designed exploration of the ways people separate from each other, and model tools for creating connection and building community.  This powerful day will include 100 students and 25 staff members.  Any student interested in being a part of this day should contact Ms. St. Coeur.  


Is your high schooler interested in improving their global perspective, enhancing their leadership skills, and conducting service abroad? The Cape Connect Service trip to South Africa is open to all AHS students and is run through Hammer & Chisel! It will be from April 12-24, 2018. Participants will receive 25-30 community service hours. If you came to our first info session, please make sure to register at hammerchisel.org using the trip code "Clocker" by Friday, November 3! We encourage sign-ups by this date so we can get an idea of the interest level, although we will accept registrations until November 12If you are interested and were not able to make it to the first info session, students & parents are welcome to our second info session on Monday, October 30 at 7pm in Ms. Hogan's room (B115)!


Have a wonderful rest of the weekend and be sure to check out the Parent Flyers .


Ashland Raises Healthy & Happy Kids:
We Need to Talk About Kids and Smartphones
I read three articles last week that validated what I have been seeing in my own children, their friends, and teens in my work. I have included the links to the articles below and really encourage you to read them. Rates of teen depression and suicide have skyrocketed since 2011.  Jean Twenge, is a professor of psychology at San Diego State University and author of the book, iGen, which examines how today’s super-connected teens may be less happy and less prepared for adulthood than past generations. In a peer-reviewed study that will appear later this year in the journal Clinical Psychological Science, Twenge shows that, after 2010, teens who spent more time on new media were more likely to report mental health issues than those who spent time on non-screen activities.Using data collected between 2010 and 2015 from more than 500,000 adolescents nationwide, Twenge's study found kids who spent three hours or more a day on smartphones or other electronic devices were 34% more likely to suffer at least one suicide-related outcome—including feeling hopeless or seriously considering suicide—than kids who used devices two hours a day or less. Among kids who used electronic devices five or more hours a day, 48% had at least one suicide-related outcome. Let me repeat that, ALMOST HALF OF KIDS WHO USE ELECTRONIC DEVICES FIVE OR MORE HOURS PER DAY HAVE AT LEAST ONE SUICIDAL OUTCOME. You may be thinking, “Five hours is a lot, there is no way my child is on his/her phone for five hours per day”. Let’s break it down for a “typical” teenager...half hour on their phone before school at home or on the bus, maybe a half hour at lunch, they get home around 3:15 and go to bed between 9:00 and 10:00, or later. Yes, they are doing homework during some of that time after school but isn’t their phone right next to them?  Aren’t they answering texts and snapchats and looking at every notification that pops up while doing homework?  Add it up...more than five hours. And that is just the 180 days of school, what about weekends, and school breaks, and summers? Now read the statement in capitals above again...scary, huh?

If these facts and the articles I have included resonate with you and your family, please consider joining in a community-wide challenge to make one small change - Do not allow your children to have their phones in their rooms at night. If you think your child is only using their phone as their alarm or to listen to music, you might be wrong. I see snapchats and texts coming to my children’s phones after 10 or 11 o’clock on school nights from 11 and 12 year olds in Ashland. It is happening. Set up a place in your home where phones can be charged overnight and tell your children a specific time in the evening the phones must be there. A friend chose the kitchen counter but switched to her bedroom after she caught her daughter sneaking down to get her phone from the kitchen. It is too soon to determine if cell phone use is the cause of the increase in teen depression, anxiety and suicide but even the experts who think other factors also contribute to this increase agree that no child or teen should have their phone in their room at night, for physical and mental health reasons.  Try it for 2 or 3 weeks. See if you notice any changes. If phones are already banned from your children’s rooms at night, try another challenge: Do not allow them on their phones before school, or at the table and at restaurants, or have them “turn”  their phones in 30 minutes or an hour earlier than usual. See what they do in the evening if they are not on their phones right up until bedtime. Read? Study more? Hang out with you or their siblings? Or maybe even use the landline to call and chat with a friend (that one is doubtful!). I look forward to tackling this, what some experts are calling a public health issues, as a community.