Teens React To Tyler Oakley

Teens React to Tyler Oakley

Teens React is a video blog where average teens are exposed to archaic inventions and contemporary trends. The responses can be very amusing to us adults as we observe just how “behind the times” we have become.

I found this installment especially telling in terms of the tolerance that we are constantly noting as upstanders here at YPC. Whether it is race or homophobia – there does seem to be a line in the sand that is becoming more faint and it is great to see that in the younger generation. All the teens were exposed to Tyler Oakley and his video blog entries. If you don’t know him, he is a flamboyant pixie with a colorful personality and opinions on all things large and small. The first impression is his cotton candy pompadour that changes colors from pink to lavender on a regular basis. The reactions from every teen who saw him – regardless of their gender or background – was that he had a great energy and positive spirit and they were drawn to him no matter what his sexual orientation. To note this, even the days of Will & Grace or Ugly Betty stereotypes seem long gone which is encouraging.

A Mighty Girl

A Mighty Girl

Never underestimate the power of a teenager with strong ideals and incentive. This great tale is the legacy of 13 yr old Trisha Prabhu from Chicago. In the spirit of being a proud “Upstander to Bullying”, she is introducing a new software called Rethink that encourages posters on Facebook to think twice before they hit send on nasty comments.

It sounds easy enough, but she backs it up with scientific information about deductive logic that is not fully developed in young adults. This extra step in the process allows for reflection and consequences. Using Google analytics she found that this newly created software was able to impact 93% of the time. Amazing work as she continues into the Final round of the Google Science Fair.

A Mighty Girl FB page

Hand of Power

Hand of Power

I know Halloween is a great time for both families and youngsters to embrace our alter egos and tap into some of our creative sides – if not just for a single night. Especially with our mad-cap production of Dracula going on. (Shameless plug.)

But this query looks a few days ahead and give focus to some of our young adults as they enter into the legal age to vote. Election Day is just a few days after in the 1st week of November. It is the beginning of your very important electoral right and legacy. So remember to register, vote and that your vote does count.

A great recruiting tool being utilized by the #RocktheVote campaign. Empower yourself.

Being Bookish

Being Bookish – in honor of Banned Book Week

This is a great Human Interest story from our own ranks that strikes a personal note with me. Mary Petrie is a vital part of YPC as a parent. Her daughter Scarlett is a current president of YAC and Mary is a constant supporter of all we do. Mary is a writer by nature if not by trade, teaching at Inver Hills CC and has also been given a Loft Award and a MN State Arts Grant. But outside life and detours didn’t allow her the total life of a working author. Until this summer when her son self-published a tabled work for her by surprise.

Mary:StrykerThe book is titled “At the End of Magic” and deals with grief and loss between an angry young mother and a college student. It came close, but was never printed by a major publishing company. Enter her 18 year old son Stryker who stepped in with a bit of mischief and a lot of bravado. He asked for files of the draft to read and then set about the task of editing and publishing the book himself via CreateSpace. In June he presented her with a proof copy of the book wrapped in blue tissue paper. Mary says “I have been lit with desire to work,” “I wake up wondering, ‘What can I do next to promote my book?’ ”

What is ironic about this story, is that I just did the same exact thing for my mom Joanne Babay. She gave up dreams of writing and poetry years back to raise a family. Life took her other places but she always manages to stumble back into a class here and some new work there. Just like Styker, I am a loyal fan and gentle confidant. For her birthday last year, my partner and I spent our winter months collecting, editing and finding pictures to present her with a finished book. She feels the same way with a reignited passion and validation that at age 74 she has fulfilled a life long goal of being a published author. Any Dream Will Do!


Top High Schools 2014

Top High Schools 2014

First off, a very eager shout out to our local Minnesota Schools who were recently listed in the Daily Beast Top Schools survey. It is an interesting rubric that used 6 criteria to measure all public schools. Mixed in with stats like GPA and graduation are other factors like college placement and “rigor” which looks at extra curricular activity. I have no idea of the algorithms that are involved, but it certainly sounds like a somewhat valid method not all based on test scores which seems to be the “industry standard.”

Edina High School placed highest at 53rd. They were followed by Eagan, Orono, Chanhassen, Eden Prairie, Chaska & Eastview; with other districts like Apple Valley, Andover, Rosemount, Champlin & Blaine among the cut below 500. It is not surprising that states like Texas, New York and California seemed to dominate the list. But without taking any merit away from these fabulous schools – you can see that the issue of privilege and affluence continue to dominate. Just like the last blog post I made about Ivy League colleges. There is not a single school on this impressive roster coming from Minneapolis or St Paul. Other cities like Denver, Miami, Dallas, Chicago or even Buffalo managed to make an impact with at least a single school noted. What are we missing in the process in spite of our great business economy and employment rates in the Twin Cities? It would seem the socio-economic climate is right for success here. Is it a matter of priorities? A lack of leadership and vision? I have no answers and I assume that the puzzle is so big that any answer would be hard to suggest.

Again, I go back to what I know in my arts advocacy; And not that it is the answer that would solve all the gaps here. But we need to keep making our voice heard that the arts do have a measurable impact in students lives and the leadership legacy they continue after school. And I can vouch that each of the schools that did make this list have much to offer in the realm of theater and music programs; each and every one of them. I’m just saying!

The “ME” Generation

The “ME” Generation

This was a term I heard often growing up. Many of us in the so-called baby boom were doted on by our parents who wanted to give us so much more than they had. But catapulting ahead another 25 years and there is now a chasm of haves and have-nots. We keep talking about the divide in classes and I think it is very apparent among the current crop of students.

This is an interesting perspective from William Deresiewicz in a SALON article of all places. He comments on the millennium generation, privilege, and the pedigree of Ivy League Schools. Ironic especially since he formerly taught English at Yale! He refers to this current crop of “sheep” as a herd that is rewarded for conforming and punished for rebellion. “They’ve been told their whole life how wonderful they are.” And then leave with a sense of importance as they are funneled into generic jobs of consulting and investment banking. Harvard admits 2,000 students out of 35,000 applications. Yes there is a “process” much like we saw in the Tina Fey film Admission. Yet, these Ivy League students remain suspiciously affluent.

Meanwhile Public Institutions go through round after round of cuts, while Yale has an endowment of 20 Billion! These credentials don’t necessarily make one an “excellent sheep.” In fact he goes on to say that they tend to be timid and risk-averse because the system requires perfection rather than taking any sort risk and exploration. He points out a marked connection between academically accomplished vs. intellectual shallowness. These elite students graduate to become our leaders which is just another form of entitlement that begins back in our very classrooms and takes root for the rest of their lives. It breeds inequality. And also makes a bold campaign for quality investment in higher public education. A very complex conundrum. Read about it: 

Full of Themselves


Back To School Kindness

Back To School Kindness

Since it has crossed my path twice in the last two days, here is a short missive on the “1st Day of School” Trauma that many will be experiencing over the next week. I was always the fierce independent type and have a photo of me beaming as I stepped onto that first school bus. But for many others, it will imprint a separation anxiety that is brand new. As I was speaking to my friend Annie last night, she was speaking that she left her very animated daughter paralyzed and clinging to her when dropping her off for Day One in Kindergarten.

change someone's story 1This is a blog article from an invested parent named Rachel and her writings of a Hands Free Mama. She speaks to the fears of both the child and parent on this incredible life journey moment. For her daughter it involves a move into a new district and fresh start in new surroundings. In this case it was an informed school teacher with welcoming hands that made all the difference in the world. So this is a challenge for any of us in the Education realm to remember that we can be THAT person. It may be a small gesture, but can make a lasting impact. Read below;



I am sharing information that was just viewed in a Facebook share. It was shared by a school teacher in light of the back-to-school onslaught here in MN as well as the rest of our country. Although I can certainly understand the logic of the parent, my background as both a teacher and artists raises my eyebrows heavily with alarm.

The author is Ben Hewitt, a writer and farmer in very rural Vermont. And the emphasis of his entry is a concept called “unschooling.” This is a step removed from even home schooling where children are taught by parents. This approach goes one farther to say that learning from books is restrictive and youth do best when left to run free and explore their natural instincts. Instead of solving algebra problems they are seeming to forage berries in the woods. He mentions that they can read and do math, but is that nearly enough to succeed in today’s world? Granted not every vocation or job expects these things, but I am of the mind that in today’s demanding world, the more skill sets one is equipped with, the more likely they are to have a fighting chance. Curiosity is a great instinct, but I don’t know that survival skills and discipline alone are enough.

The first of the major faults I find with this philosophy is that anything of substance they learn, will need to come from the parents. I can tell from the multitudes of students coming through our doors at YPC, that family is not the core asset many of them have handy to lead them into their futures. And even if they do have that parent support, aren’t we all limited by the single set of skills we are able to impart? This assumes that every child will follow in his parents footsteps. I was one of a lucky few that stumbled onto the arts before I ever realized there could be a career in it. Otherwise I would have ended up working in a shop like my dad or a VA hospital like my mom. My exposure was limited outside the world of high school band.

Secondly, I do understand his mantra at classrooms often being a sterile and confined cubicle and that motion & activity can and do stimulate learning. But even with academia being under the microscope for standardized testing (which I highly question), one cannot deny that an educational setting opens doors of possibilities. Yes there is the required algebra and literature. But by the time I graduated, I had been exposed to architecture and design, philosophy, world history and genetics that fought for my attentions. And this was at a rural school in a blue collar district. As I graduated I was faced with decisions I would never have even guessed at if I was “unschooled.”

So while I understand his reasoning and honor his opinions, to me it equates to dropping out of the system and I wonder is that what our youth really needs at this point in history? Read the full article below:

We Don’t Need No Education