Smile Politely

Jefferson M.S. Honorable Mentions

Seventh Grade Runner Up: Alec Shedelbower

We all have our own idea of our community. For some it’s their town and for others it’s their neighborhood. To me, my community is Jefferson Middle School. At Jefferson, kids of all types come together in one place. Their reasons commonly vary, their abilities often differ, and their attitudes are always distinct. Yet, they can still join together and become students. Unfortunately, things aren’t always serene, in fact, they usually aren’t. There are arguments between students and teachers and between students and students. There are also many other things standing in the way of having a pleasant school environment. I believe our school needs to focus on making school more enjoyable for all kids by following the guidelines/tips below.

There are often arguments between students and teachers, whether it’s about grades, opinions, or punishments. It isn’t unusual for students to argue about their grades. The argument usually involves a missing assignment that the student guarantees they turned in. To avoid this I recommend that teachers form a system that will easily show whether a student has turned in their work or not. For example, you could read the names of the people whose work you have whenever an assignment is turned in. If the student says they turned an assignment in and you don’t have it, it’s the students fault for not listening.

When it comes to disagreements about other’s opinions, I suggest that students and teachers take a moment to listen to the other’s reasons for their opinion. This way you can understand the other person’s motives for thinking a certain way and you can dodge what could be a brutal dispute. For everyone has their own opinion and have a right to share it. Just because someone else’s view on a topic is different than yours is no reason to criticize them.

For some students, punishments are a main argument starter. Teachers and personnel who give out punishments have to make a judgment call. Students can disagree and become angry with the teacher’s decision on the size of the punishment. To evade this, I propose that teachers clearly state the punishments that students will receive for doing certain actions from the beginning (as they normally do). If a student begins to argue, just remind them of what they did wrong. As for students, try to understand why you were punished. I believe students and faculty of Jefferson should try to follow these techniques to avoid arguments between students and teachers whenever possible.

A large amount of arguments at Jefferson are not between teachers and students but between students and students. It generally starts out with one student making a comment to another. The other student gets offended and says something offensive back which causes the first student to come back even harder. As you can see, these arguments can quickly escalate from a comment to mockery, name calling, or even physical fights. This is why it is important that students learn to think before they act. If the first student would have thought about how the second student would react and then changed his comment the whole argument could have been avoided. If we all think before we act it could save everyone a great deal of frustration.

There are many other factors beside arguments that are blocking students of an enjoyable school day. I highly recommend that students follow these tips. First of all, it’s important to be present and on time to school and classes every day. You can’t enjoy school if you don’t show up, so make sure you set your alarm and don’t wander the hallways. Second, be sure to complete all homework and turn it in on time. Homework can be a large part of your grade, so be sure to do it. It’s also a nice habit to finish homework early if possible, so in the case that something goes wrong you have time to fix it. Finally, it’s a good idea to follow a teacher’s instructions when she says them. If you disagree or have a complaint, wait for an appropriate time to tell them. When you do this the teacher will be more likely to listen to you rather you interrupt them.

Jefferson Middle School, like most communities, has its problems. I hope to help solve these problems by suggesting the guidelines/tips above to the people at Jefferson. Yet, one person cannot change a community alone, everyone in the community has to change for the community to change.


Eighth Grade Runner Up: Ashler Uebele

If I could change one thing in my community it would be the discrimination against the LGBT crowd.  Parents and adults who believe it’s wrong to be gay have rubbed off on a lot of kids from a young age.  I’ve seen and heard kids and teens alike that use the words “gay” and “faggot” as derogatory terms on a regular basis, and I have been a victim of this kind of teasing over a large section of my life.  I am a male ballet dancer and have been for eight years. People at school don’t seem to understand how physically engaging it is and thing of it as a girly thing to do.  People have called me a “fag” and “gay” so much that I started questioning myself.  Although people have mostly stopped teasing me, I am going to do everything I can to open people’s eyes to this offense so that there will not be as many people hurting others.

I have been around gay people all my life.  My mom is a head-strong surrogate mother.  She has had many kids for gay couples and stays in touch with them.  I have seen no reason that these people should be discriminated against.  They are all just as regular and human as the rest of us.

I have done things to protest this problem in the past.  One of the things I did last year was “Day of Silence.”  Every year on April 16th people protest the name calling and bullying of anti-LGBT.  The participants don’t speak from the beginning of school until around 8 p.m.  I did it to open the eyes of the people in my school.  I succeeded indrawing in almost 20 people to participate with me in this event.  I believe it’s important for people to understand who their bullying affects and how it affects them.  Along with it being a protest it has also shown me how many people are involved in the movement against the anti-LGBT.

I am also involved in Jefferson Middle School’s Gay-Straight Alliance.  We have had only one meeting so far and are deciding what we will make of it.  We know we will all participate in the day of silence this year, and are trying to find other interesting events like it.  We are going to make posters and shirts to promote and advertise it, although we are afraid that people might vandalize our posters.  Webelieve the hate in the school is strong enough that people will take offense.  I am willing to risk getting bullied now to stop the bullying from happening later. 

I believe that equality for minorities is important and it’s the LGBT crowd’s turn to be equal. 


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