HEALTHY STUDENTS/BETTER LEARNERS

On May 8, United Teachers of Pasadena recognized PUSD’s school nurses by celebrating National School Nurse Day as a way to foster a better understanding of the role of school nurses in the educational setting.

The theme this year was “School Nurses: Making the Grade on School Health.”

Since 1972, National School Nurse Day has been set aside to recognize school nurses. National School Nurse Day was established to foster a better understanding of the role of school nurses in the educational setting.

Today’s children face more chronic illnesses (e.g. asthma, diabetes, food allergies, mental health, etc.) than ever before, and school nurses take their role as a licensed, professional school nurse very seriously. School nurses in PUSD take on a variety of roles every day. For many children, they are the only health professional they may have access to, except in emergencies. This becomes even more important as the prevalence of chronic social, emotional and other health problems keep increasing.

Did you know that there are only 10 school nurses across the district? That means other school professionals and school administrators, with no medical training, must sometimes step in and provide some level of care.

Healthier students are better learners. Evidence-based research in fields ranging from neuroscience and child development to epidemiology and public health support this argument. Our elected officials must invest in programs and services that seek to improve the health and well-being outcomes of all children. As the superintendent and the school board make funding decisions for next school year, I hope their budget reflects the right priorities — ensuring our children have a successful, productive and healthy future.

~  ALVIN NASH

PRESIDENT

UNITED TEACHERS OF PASADENA

HAUNTING MEMORIES

Forty nine years ago on May 4, 1970 four students were gunned down on the commons of Kent State University. I was a student on campus that day, a young sophomore who wanted nothing more than to get my degree. But suddenly I found myself caught in the maelstrom which became known as the Kent State Massacre. Those four students — Allison Krause, Jeffrey Miller, Sandra Lee Scheuer and William Knox Schroeder — were not murdered at the hands of an angry, hate- filled, disgruntled student or a veteran suffering from PTSD, but at the hands of Ohio National Guardsmen, some who weren’t much older than the students who were gunned down.

To this day I thank God that my life was spared. An unseen hand had guided me to my music class in the speech and hearing building. But make no mistake: I was forever emotionally scarred by the tragedy. In the months that followed I was plagued by anxiety, guilt, nightmares and agoraphobia. A budding civil rights activist at the time, I wanted to speak out but was silenced by my parents who feared retaliation from bigots in my hometown who looked upon the murdered students as instigators and hippies who deserved what they got.

Looking back at the chaos that ensued, I wonder if Kent State was a bad omen, a portent of future shootings that occur so routinely today in churches, synagogues, schools and workplaces. Was some door to Hades unlocked by that senseless shooting?

Today I still carry wounds from that massacre on the commons of Kent State. Every time I hear of another mass shooting, memories are triggered and I find myself thrust back in time — a young student whose innocence was forever lost.

Young people today who have witnessed a mass shooting — students at Columbine, Sandy Hook, Parkvale, University of North Carolina, and now STEM School Highlands Ranch — will have to figure out how to navigate through their trauma and heal their psychological wounds. How do they cope with the reckoning that they live in a dangerous world and their parents, families, teachers and the police cannot protect them? Some will get counseling. They will go to memorial services. They will send cards and flowers to the injured. But they will live with their scars forever.

I’ve spent a lifetime trying to come to terms with the tragedy at Kent State. Every time an innocent life is gunned down in the streets of America, I am reminded that our country is at war with itself. Our children are sacrificial lambs in our preoccupation with guns. Each one of us has to figure out how to heal from our wounds. Prayer and trust in a higher power helps, but ultimately our healing will depend on what we do to bring about a world of peace.

~  HAZEL CLAYTON HARRISON

ALTADENA

letters wanted

Send letters to kevinu@pasadenaweekly.com. For news tips and information about happenings and events, contact Kevin at the address above or call (626) 584-1500, ext. 115. Contact Deputy Editor André Coleman at andrec@pasadenaweekly.com and at ext. 114.