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Gunn community gathers to honor classmate
Original post made
on May 9, 2009
Chairs had to be stacked against the walls to make room for a tight, standing-room-only crowd at a celebration of the life of 17-year-old Jean-Paul "JP" Blanchard, who died Tuesday at the CalTrain tracks. The gathering was Saturday at Mitchell Park Community Center.
Read the full story here Web Link
posted Saturday, May 9, 2009, 5:04 PM
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Posted by PA-Has-Big-Problems
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 11, 2009 at 10:41 pm
My name's Chris and I grew up and live in Palo Alto; I think it'd be a great thing for people to speak honestly on this article rather than be nicey-nicey all the time. Palo Alto didn't used to be so shallow.
[To be clear, my comments have zero to do with the specifics of JP's suicide; I don't know him, I don't know his life, his family, his friends, none of it. My comments, rather, are directed at the community in which such high levels of stress, self-loathing and sadness are allowed to exist.]
Kids (including Depressed Person), here's the truth of many a child's situation in Palo Alto:
1. Your parents often work too much in order to be able to afford living in Palo Alto. Palo Alto real estate costs too much, and we all aspire to the nice house, good cars, all that rubbish. Your parents need to get their priorities straight and realize that *you* are *the* *most* *beautiful, wondrous thing* *they'll* *ever* *know*. In my not all at politically correct view, both parents should not work full time - that is a selfish thing for the parents to do and IMO creates a horrible void in childrens' lives. Parents, give up the rat race and commit yourselves to being parents.
2. Please, oh God, please don't be fooled into thinking that the grades you get, the AP points you score, the college you get into and the major you major in will have diddly squat to do with how your life unfurls, because it won't. Understand that what will make you successful in life is the basics - learning to enjoy reading, learning the rapture of the well-written paragraph, empathy for others, etc etc. Learn those things, learn how to have fun, learn fascinating history and you'll be juuuuuust fine.
3. If your classmates don't know you exist or appreciate you, resolve yourself to find people who *are* willing to acknowledge and appreciate you. Join the Boy Scouts, that's a great organization through which it's virtually impossible to pass without making many long-term friends. Join a club in your high school. Volunteer helping worthy causes; this may sound trite, but there is no better way to get the love that we all seek by *giving love* in the first place. Try it, my friend, and you'll have that community that knows and appreciates you as sure as day follows night.
4. Gunn staff & parents: I can't help but feel that many of the problems we have here are due to staff & parents putting unreasonable expectations on our youth. It's simply not possible for test scores, GPAs, student citizenship and extracurricular performance to improve forever and to infinity. I'm gonna make damn sure that my kids know that their youth is there for their enjoyment first & foremost. Stop the pressure cooker atmosphere, parents and staff, that we in this community *all* hear so much of, stop it I say! Screw it kids, and just try to learn a bit about as many different aspects of life as you can, leave academic specialization for much later and find things you LOOOOOOOOOOOVE to do and which challenge your body and mind, and fill your time in the pursuit of those endeavors.
Youth of Palo Alto, if there's one thing I really want to stick my neck out and say, it's that you are *heroes* for living life in this pressure cooker of a town, this screwed up technology-laden dork-fest of a town, this incredibly hypocritical town whose citizens preach environmental consciousness from 3000ft2 houses. Things were wayyy simpler when I grew up here and I have no idea how I would've made it today. Know that for the most part the life we're all asking you to live is not normal, the goals are not normal, the societal norms are not normal, and you, by contrast, are what's right with this place.
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Posted by Learned the hard and solid way
a resident of Midtown
on May 13, 2009 at 1:50 am
To "PA-Has-Big-Problems" (AKA Chris), you made many good points that many would prefer to duck.
The world "out there" isn't how it was over 20 years ago when I was in high school - and yet, it's still, "Not Fair!" The "prize" in education has made the high-paying jobs, glamorous lifestyles, fun gadget-y toys the Goal. Where's the BIG "Why?" for life? And I dont' mean religion here...
Yes, PA may be a pressure cooker environment for kids as well as parents, and it's been observed that many of these academically bright students have no clue what to do in "real life" - like how to take care of someone ill, how the flow of money works (get a job, spend the money?), CPR/First Aid, properly wash dishes, take out the garbage, or even how to do the laundry (colors vs white loads, yes?).
I've interviewed teens for entry level work, and many came in with such high self esteem attitudes, had no concept of being reliable, accountable, working with a team, or a supervisor. Many thought themselves above it all to get their hands dirty with manual labor, yet had no idea how to hold a shovel or use it. Their attitude got in the way of learning how to work WITH others, as well as pickup a new skill. They had no incentive to work hard and do well, and they didn't understand how come they needed to do a good job.
Here's my "grocery list" of priorities:
1. Family - health, safety, love, and communication
2. Basic needs - food, fuel, cleanliness, shelter, clothes, more love, respect, education, books/toys, fun and connection/recognition
3. Comforts - entertainment, extracurricular activities like dance/martial arts/sports/art class, transportation by adult, new clothes, TV, family vacations, etc.
4. Above and beyond - car for under 18, paid auto insurance, REALLY nice house, monthly/weekly parties, iPod/iPhone/PDA for the kids, Wiiiiii/XBox/Vid games, surround sound / theater system, cellphones, trips to Hawaii/Europe/Asia, etc.
1 and 2 are the minimum, build character, and open the eyes of the kids to see how to create their own world. The world isn't "given" to them - they have to work for it, as well as their "freedom" and the corresponsponding responsibility for participating in it.
To quote a line in Spiderman: "With great power comes great responsiblity."
That would apply to both kids AND adults. It means that kids get to take on the responsibility of their own lives, and the adults GIVE the teens the power as they earn it to be responsible for their own life. Yeah, it's a "test" and "pop quiz," along the way, with "final exam" at 18-years-old to see the teen start his/her way through life.
Parents: Empower the kids with your bravery, and honesty. Leave the glitz and glamour as they are - as icing on the proverbial cake. As adults, we need to Bake the cake... not just put on the icing to make the cake "look good."
OK, I'll get off my soapbox now... thanks for reading...