Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Spring SOY table at Reagan HS

Tami and I were glad to have a literature table today during lunch at Reagan HS.  Students stopped by the table to spin the peace wheel, take literature, talk about their plans and do some stencil art.  Several staff people also stopped by to talk, and a life skills teacher did some stenciling to add to their area bulletin board.  We brought our military reality fliers and Americorps materials to the Project Advance room and spoke with some of the career counseling staff. We learned that, beginning this year, Reagan students who qualify can take ACC courses right on the Reagan campus, beginning as early as their first year in high school. Thus, the new designation (along with LBJ HS) as an Early College High School. Also, some Pearce Middle School students are now attending the 8th Grade College Prep Academy on the Reagan campus.

college flags flew in one the courtyards

We learned that this is Social Justice Week at Reagan, with different issues addressed each day.  Today, it was suicide prevention and bullying.  Students told us that the day's announcements included info about these issues.

As we walked into the front office, there was a running list of scholarship opportunities on the school's video screens.  This particular scholarship was listed on a poster outside the career counseling offices.

This flier was also posted outside the career counseling room.  Our materials challenge several of these claims.  For example, very few enlistees will retire in 20 years, and most soldiers will not qualify for or use the highest GI Bill figures, according to government statistics.  The flier does not mention that veterans are more likely to be unemployed than civilians, and that approximately one in three homeless adults is a veteran.  Nor does it mention the high rates of Post Traumatic Stress, Traumatic Brain Injuries or Military Sexual Trauma that soldiers suffer. causing serious difficulties in family life and job retention. 

A good online resource for info about college financial aid

Student stencils

Life Skillls teacher and community garden organizer

We were happy to see this poster, featuring Public Offenders, and Gidon, who is a past student president at Reagan and who is included on our Peace Wheel.

Stencil art

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Ft. Hood Soldiers Fight to Make Ends Meet

Jeremy Schwartz, a writer at the Austin  American-Statesman  is doing a series on returning veterans. In today's installment, he describes some of the difficult economic realities of military life:

Ft. Hood Soldiers Fight to Make Ends Meet
by Jeremy Schwartz, Austin American-Statesman, published February 26, 2012

KILLEEN — As the sun rises on a chilly winter morning, the line grows longer outside the Killeen Food Care Center next to the railroad tracks on the eastern edge of downtown. Sprinkled throughout the expanding crowd of more than 100 are what some might consider a surprising sight: uniformed soldiers from nearby Fort Hood, waiting to fill bags with about 10 days' worth of canned meats, cereal and fresh vegetables.

"I got the information from two other soldiers," said Sgt. Sandy Cornet, 28, who recently returned from Iraq and was waiting in the line with her husband and two of their five children. "It's a lot of them that come here, but they change their clothes because I guess it's embarrassing. A lot don't like to ask for help."

Over the past decade, an all-volunteer military force has shouldered the entire burden of frequent deployments into the war zone, spending months away from families and risking injury and death. But back at home, the harsh reality for a largely unseen population of soldiers and military families has been a spot in a food line, food stamps and a daily struggle to make ends meet.

Read the rest of the article here.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Peace, art, scholarships (and other valentines) at Eastside Memorial HS

Tami and I had a great visit today at Eastside Memorial, both with the International School students and EM students during their lunch times.  We were set up in the hall foyer outside the cafeteria, and lots of students were interested in making valentines, stenciling folders and creating their own additional designs.  We had new info sheets listing some of the scholarships posted on the MALDEF site, especially for undocumented students (the list online is from last year, but most of the info should still apply.  Students should check about this year's deadline dates, though.)  We had application forms (one-page) for a local scholarship available for students in the Montopolis area, courtesy of one of our local supporters.  We learned more, also, about Eastside's resources for their international students and all who want to pursue college.  Undocumented students fill out paper TAFSA forms, and US citizens fill out FAFSA forms online, and the college/career room staff can help with that.  On February 4, Eastside students could attend a Financial Aid Saturday, co-sponsored by the Austin Chamber of Commerce, where help was provided in filling out FAFSA, TAFSA and scholarship application forms.

We added literature to the career room and library, next to where military brochures were stocked.

We checked out the great student art hanging outside the art room and admired the many hallway displays created by students.

Some photos from our day:

Students got the idea to start signing each other's folders...

 Items from our table:
 Tami at our table:

 In the International school, students come from many parts of the world...
 We restocked our literature in the school library, right next to the military brochures:

 Some examples of the remarkable student art portraits displayed outside the art room:

 Different times around the world...
 A hallway display:
 And this guy in the library... say wha???