Are Yukon Schools Politically Correct?

In Arizona, a 13-year-old boy was suspended for for drawing — on paper — a gun on his homework. In 2000, four kindergarten boys were playing cops and robbers at recess using their fingers as “guns”; they were subsequently suspended for three days. These and other stories have led me to wonder whether things are any different in the Yukon. So, I decided to pay a visit to a local school to see for myself.

Upon entering the school, I was immediately threatened by a black-masked figure with a flowing cape, brandishing a long rapier. He wasn’t packing heat, but I’ll bet he’ll be suspended.

Trying to find someone with authority to mete out the suspension, I barely escaped a beheading by a Knight Templar in the principal’s office.

Grateful that I had escaped with my life twice, I decided to stay away from the office and make my way down to the gym, where a flurry of activity got my attention.

Instead of being in class, students filled the gymnasium. In one corner, a crowd egged on two students going at each other with pillows. A bystander was recording the whole incident on his cell phone.

A few feet further, suction-cup guns were being aimed at a boy moving about in a cage-like enclosure. The target was the skull-shaped mask being worn by the kid.

In yet another area, students were wielding hunting rifles, trying for a “kill.” Farm animals were scattered about on a flat board and the ammunition was a coin rolling down a slot on a carved wooden hunting rifle. Thankfully there was a sheriff sitting nearby. Surely he had the authority to take care of these gun-toting kids. But wait! He was the one encouraging the whole thing. Isn’t there anyone in this school that sees this behaviour for what it is?

I’d had enough of this and made my way to the nearest exit, which meant going through the girls’ change room and out the other side. As I hurried through the door, I suddenly heard muffled screams. A grizzly discovery awaited me: the change room was a scene reminiscent of a chainsaw massacre. I found myself in the dark, where flashes of light illuminated walls, ceiling, and floors splattered with blood. Trying to paw my way out of there, something (or someone) jumped out at me from a dark corner. I finally managed to find the exit where I needed a moment to regain my composure. We’re way past suspensions now, expulsion is in order!

By the end of day, the school would have been emptied had suspensions been given out. Instead, everyone had a great time. Kids had been talking about this event from the beginning of school in August and couldn’t wait for this day of Hallowe’en festivities. I’m guessing they’ll be talking about it for a couple of months to come.

Funny thing, I didn’t see any kids fighting at recess, nor any punches thrown. What I did see was a group of kids working the whole day before to set up the gym, and working through recess and lunch the day after to clean up. They were scrubbing walls using lots of elbow grease, while chatting about the day before. Could it be that there is a healthy way of letting kids just be themselves and have a bit of fun? No one condones violence, but could it be that because of news headlines, we have pushed the pendulum to the extreme?


Plastic Garbage

I recently came across a fellow blogger’s photograph of some of the garbage blown around near the Dawson City dump. This reminded me of articles I recently read in the Globe and Mail about a couple trying to go a month without producing any household trash; I was inspired. Of course I can’t claim to have come anywhere close to them, but their campaign made me more aware of just how much garbage we produce. Looking in my own trashcan, I realized that the largest portion of garbage turns out to be plastic: plastic wrap, plastic food containers/wrap (i.e. pasta), and the worst culprit, plastic shopping bags. Though I tried to re-use plastic shopping bags, they eventually tear and end up in the garbage. So I decided to buy canvas tote bags, as mentioned in a previous post.

These thoughts prompted a couple of questions:

  • Why is it that grocery stores aren’t getting on board with this? Any kind of reusable tote bags are so expensive in grocery stores, that who would want to buy them? If they can charge for plastic grocery bags at no profit to themselves, they should be able to do the same with canvas tote bags. Make it easier for consumers to go green, not harder! (The same applies to all retail stores.)
  • Everyone in Whitehorse knows, including store owners, that the city offers compost pick-up every two weeks. Why is it so difficult to find bio-degradable bags in local stores? I can see this being a problem in spring, when everybody’s cleaning their yards, but year-round? What local stores offer is inconsistent. And why on earth would I want to buy huge plastic orange and clear bags to pick up leaves and cuttings that are going to the compost? We need more bio-degradable bags!

Shaving for Cancer

Last night, I had the privilege of witnessing a friend of mine getting her head shaved to raise funds for someone who recently underwent cancer treatment. I’ve heard of people doing this, but have never seen it done.

While watching, I was thinking to myself what courage she has to part with her hair. I mean, it’s easy enough for men to go around with a bald head, or at least it’s more socially acceptable for men to be bald. For women, though, it’s another story. Not only is it less socially acceptable, but for those who have longer hair, it takes a long time to grow it back. (That’s why I think we should donate double the amount for women who do this.)

Okay, I know I’m starting to sound gender biased here: men have short hair, women have long hair, yadda yadda yadda. But if you look at it from the “socially acceptable” perspective, you might agree (or maybe not). Plus, women with super-short hair are often accused of being gay, or butch, or whatever term people like to use.

Regardless of all this, I realized that though it took courage for my friend to go bald, it took even more courage and strength for the cancer survivor to undergo her treatment and to keep fighting. I met her for the first time last night, and what a woman! She is beautiful inside and out, and had a smile on her face the whole time.