Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Chipotie May 15 for SW Fastpitch


Come to Chipotle Mexican Grill - Edina 6801 York Ave S, Edina, MN
Wednesday, MAY 15th from 5:00-8:00p.m.

Bring a flier, show a digital copy of the flier on your smart phone or iPod, or simply say that you support SW FASTPITCH and 50% of your purchase will go to the baseball program. This includes Gift Card purchases!  They make great Grad Gifts.  Hope to see you there! 


Dream Act Student Rally

On Wednesday, May 1st, there is a rally planned at the State Capitol for Minnesotans to support the Dream Act, which is going to the Senate floor for a full vote. Although this not an MPS sponsored event, we know that many students are planning to attend this event and we expect that some MPS students, particularly Latino high school students, may participate. We believe that students’ participation in this event is an opportunity for students to demonstrate leadership and civic engagement.


About the Dream Act and MPS students

The Dream Act is a big step forward for our students and families – and it is a big step forward for Minneapolis Public Schools (MPS), too. If passed, this bill would allow undocumented students who meet certain criteria to pay in-state tuition at all state colleges and universities. Immigrant students would also be eligible to receive state grants and private scholarships. This proposed policy brings hope to our students, schools and community. Rather than being fearful of deportation, students will be inspired to stay in school, excel in their studies and truly reach their full potential. We anticipate higher student retention and lower dropout rates as the result of the passage of this bill.


MPS and Superintendent Johnson are supportive of the Dream Act and we’ve been public and vocal about our support for undocumented students at the legislature and in the community. See Superintendent Johnson’s leader letter.


Students must have signed parent permission to excuse the absence

The school district could consider participation in this even an excused absence under Regulation 5100 A, as an “approved family activity.” If students wish to participate, they must come to school with a signed parent/guardian permission slip in order to excuse their student’s absence. If students elect not to come to school in the morning and participate, they need to return the next day with a signed permission from their parent or guardian. Students are expected to make up any school work and assignments that are missed due to an absence.

Francesca Dawis Rose Rees Peace Award Recipient

The Rose Rees Peace Award commemorates Rose Rees, who died in 1935 while serving as president of National Council of Jewish Women's Minneapolis Section, and who was passionate about international relations and world peace. NCJW annually awards graduating seniors from 18 area high schools who have demonstrated a commitment to these same principals of international relations and world peace with the Rose Rees Peace Award.

This year's Southwest High recipient is Francesca Dawis.  Her vision of world peace, submitted as an essay to the National Council of Jewish Women, is reprinted here:
When I was six years old, I kept my neighbors up at night with the squeaks of my 1/8-sized violin (named Audrey) and my screechy “singing” (mostly screaming). Eleven years, hundreds of lessons, and thousands of practice hours later, music is still as awe-inspiring and just plain fun as it was when I was a beginner. But it’s hard not to feel guilty sometimes—I have the privileges of a house, clothes, food, and music lessons while others don’t have the means to find a meal. During my sophomore year, I began to wonder how I could use music to open opportunities for others. Since then, I have worked to make an immediate impact on the problem of homelessness in Minneapolis—especially for children—through music. With the help of my church, St. Thomas the Apostle, I host and organize concerts to benefit the SOAR Program of Simpson Housing Services, which is dedicated to helping children in transitional housing get back on track at school through tutoring and parenting workshops.
I act as singer, violinist, and producer for the concerts. I gather musician friends, arrange repertoire, direct rehearsals, and set up the stage. I treat the concerts as an opportunity to showcase music as diverse as the families that Simpson serves; we fit classical concertos, Broadway showtunes, and indie rock hits all on the same program. Walking out onstage to greet our audience and seeing so many familiar faces united in support of Simpson is exhilarating. So far, over 1,000 people have attended four concerts and donated over $9,000—the equivalent of more than a year's worth of rent for a family. Most importantly, the children in SOAR are receiving the guidance they need to overcome obstacles and find scholastic success. Our partnership has been the most fulfilling experience of my high school years, by far.
            I’m now setting my goals even higher. I believe that children living in underprivileged situations can turn their lives around with music, and I want to raise additional funds to start a music lessons program at an elementary school located in a poor neighborhood. My biggest inspiration is El Sistema, a Venezuelan state foundation that oversees the country’s 125 youth orchestras and instrumental training programs.  Seventy to ninety percent of the students involved are from poor socio-economic backgrounds. El Sistema recognizes that a musical foundation—which teaches discipline, perseverance, and the importance of sacrifice for a goal—can help a child break out of poverty.
I know how to use my own musical abilities to make a difference in the lives of others, and I believe that a musical education has the potential to open doors for impoverished youth. The world needs more organizations like El Sistema and Simpson Housing Services. If we focus on supporting disadvantaged children with resources and education, we will be closer to breaking the seemingly never-ending cycle of poverty and one step closer to world peace.


Monday, April 29, 2013

Death in the Family - Tips for Parents


from National Association of School Psychologists

By James Batts, PhD, NCSP

Eastern Kentucky University

Our children grow up in a culture that avoids expressing grief and tries to deny the inevitability of

death. The realization that all life must someday end is one of the most difficult concepts we as adults

have to deal with and is one of the most difficult concepts we have to teach our children. Death is all

around us, yet as parents we believe that if we do not talk about it with our children death will not touch


Children will face many deaths that will have an impact on their daily lives. Some of these deaths

may be anticipated and some sudden. Children may have to face the fact that a friend, a sibling, or a

parent has died or that they, too, will die. Children will need adult help in understanding what is

happening and will typically look to adults as models for how to cope.

Children’s Understanding of Death

Preschool children (ages 2–6).

Generally around age 4 children have a limited and vague

understanding of death. Children of this age generally do not think of death as permanent. They may

believe it is reversible and talk of doing things with the person in the future. Preschoolers frequently

engage in magical thought and play. They may believe if they pray or wish hard enough, they could bring

the dead person to life. A parent may overhear a child tell a friend, “My mommy is not dead. She is

visiting Grandma.”

Young children may connect events or things together that do not belong together. A child may tell

his brother he hates him, and a short time later the brother is struck and killed by a car. The child may

not only have guilt for what he said, but feel responsible for causing the death. As parents and

caregivers we must disconnect these events in the child’s thinking by reassuring the child that the

events are not in any way related.

Primary age children (age 6–9).

Children at this age have begun to grasp the finality of death, but

very often they still engage in magical thinking and maintain the belief that their thoughts and wishes

may have the power to undo death. This belief in their power may lead to the idea that they could have

prevented the death or they should have been there to protect the person who died. This thinking also is

likely to lead to feelings of guilt and responsibility for the person’s death.

Intermediate age children (age 9–12).

Developmentally, children at this age are reading adventure

books, telling ghost stories, and becoming preoccupied with super heroes. They often look on death as

some supernatural being that comes and gets you. Even though they think of death as something that

happens primarily to old people, they realize it can happen to the young, to their parents, to their loved

ones. At this age they may develop fears of their parents dying or have nightmares about the death of a

friend or loved one. They may also think people die because of some wrong doing of the dead person or

someone around them (death is punishment for bad behavior). Again, this type of thinking can lead to

feelings of guilt and remorse.

Adolescents (age 13–18).

By the time children reach middle school, they probably understand death

as well as adults. They understand it is permanent and happens to everyone eventually. Teens spend

much of their time thinking, daydreaming, and philosophizing about death. They are often fascinated

with death and fantasize about their own death to the dismay of their parents. They imagine their own

funeral, for example, who will come, how badly people will feel, and how people will wish they had been

nicer to them when they were alive. Even with this preoccupation with death, they can feel immune to it

and engage in death-challenging behaviors such as reckless driving or drinking or taking drugs.

Helping Children at Home and School II: Handouts for Families and Educators


How to Tell a Child of a Death

Every family has to deal with death in its own way depending on the relationship of the individual, cultural
traditions, religious beliefs, and the age and developmental level of the child. The following suggestions can guide parents in this difficult task:
• Get to your child quickly, before friends or other  relatives try to explain what happened.
• Find a quiet place to tell your child, and do it calmly and gently.

• Start with an introduction to prepare your child for the bad news. Maybe say, “A very sad thing happened. Grandpa has died.” If your child is a preschooler, you may need to explain what the word “died” means. “Died” may be defined as “no longer living.” Talk to your child about what it means to be alive. “When you’re alive you can breathe, walk, talk,
see, hear. Grandpa cannot do these things any more.”
• Use clear language, such as “dead,” “died,” “cancer,” or “Her heart stopped working.” Avoid using confusing and unclear language such as “passed on,” “no longer with us,” “with the angels,” or “gone away.” And especially avoid any references to sleeping. Young children will naturally assume that their loved one will eventually wake up.

• Explain the basic facts and allow the details to come later in the form of questions. Allow your child to show strong emotions and say, "Some people cry when they are upset and other people don’t show their emotions when they’re upset. It does not mean they don’t love the person who died."

• Describe what will happen over the next few days and where your child fits into the events. Describe the funeral arrangements, burial, and related customs specific to your family’s culture and religion, where you will be, where they will be, and who will be visiting or staying in the house.

• Provide reassurance that life will eventually be more normal again. Explain to your child that he or she will return to school in a few days, that he or she will be able to see friends again. The family will go back to its usual activities as much as possible but without the loved one. Helping children maintain a positive outlook, even in times of pain, will help
ensure a health recovery from grief. (For some good tips on building resilience in children, see the American Psychological Association guide in the “Resources” below.)

Children’s Reactions to Death

Childhood grief is different from the grief

experienced by adults. Adult grief is usually experienced

more immediately, more intensely, and often times more

compactly. You may observe some of the following in

grieving children:

• They are more capable of putting aside their grief

for periods of time. You may see them engage in

play a short time after being told about a death as if

nothing has happened.

• They tend to grieve over a longer period of time and

more sporadically.

• They often will become more dependent and need

additional support even with initiating and

maintaining routine activities.

• They can have feelings of unreality, as if all this is

happening to someone else.

• They may describe themselves as tired and bored

and will experience sleep disturbances.

• They may be preoccupied with the dead person;

simple events like a Little League game will trigger

a memory or feeling of “I wish Grandpa could have

been here for my game.”

• They may have a difficult time focusing, may

become overactive, and have difficulty with school


• They may become aggressive, short tempered, and

even engage in uncharacteristic destructive


• They may revert back to a behavior during an earlier

developmental period, such as wetting the bed,

sucking a thumb, wanting the nightlight on, or

sleeping with a transitional object such as a teddy

bear. Regression is a common symptom of grief.

Helping Children Cope With Death

• Funerals and memorial services help us accept

death and provide the love and support of families

and friends. These services may be more important

for children than they are for adults. In an inviting

way, ask your child if he or she wants to attend the

funeral. Do not force your child to attend the funeral

if he or she is adamant about not going.

• Talk, listen, and nurture your child. Children can

have endless questions and need for reassurance.

Be patient and understanding when asked the same

questions over and over. Don’t be afraid to say, “I

don’t know.” Remember that your child will watch

your reactions and use your reactions as a model.

• Try to keep your child’s routine as normal as

possible or at least return to the normal routine as

soon as events allow.

• Children need help in expressing their feelings.

Encourage your child to draw pictures for the dead


Death and Grief in the Family: Tips for Parents

person or talk about the dead person or even write


• Reading books about death can be helpful, but

make sure the book conveys the theme or message

you want. Different cultural and religious beliefs

may conflict with the message and activities

described in some books.

• Provide your child opportunities to do something in

memory of the person who died: light a candle,

plant a tree, make a memory scrapbook, or give a

gift in memory of the person who died.

When Parents Should Be Concerned

These are some warning signs that children may

need assistance dealing with their grief:

• Refusal to attend school especially out of fear of

something happening to their parents or


• Physical symptoms that linger, even after a visit to

the doctor for reassurance that they are fine. Be

especially concerned if the physical symptoms

seem to be related to identification with the person

who died.(for instance, if the person died of a heart

attack and the child suffers from unexplained chest

pain or the person died of a stroke and the child

complains of headaches).

• Fears and anxieties that interfere with normal

activities or routines. Give your child a reasonable

period to grieve, but if your child continues to

exhibit anxieties, then something may be wrong. Be

especially concerned if this behavior is observed

across different settings such as at school, home, or

in the community.

• Depression that remains for a long period.

Depression often follows a major loss such as the

death of a loved one, loss of a pet, or divorce.

Symptoms of depression may include withdrawal,

poor concentration, significant lack of energy,

disturbed sleep and appetite, overwhelming

sadness, and frequent crying. Be concerned if these

signs are present almost all day and nearly every

day for a 2-week period. Be concerned if your child

is more preoccupied with death than you feel is

comfortable or normal.

Other Support for Grieving Children

In addition to your friends and family, the following

individuals and organizations may be helpful: the clergy,

the funeral director, school psychologist or guidance

counselor, hospice, local mental health center, local

bereavement support groups, and online support

groups. Remember that not all help is helpful.

Sometimes the help that is offered does not meet the

family’s or individual’s needs or expectations and

therefore a parent should feel comfort contacting other

resources. The publications and websites below may

offer grieving families information and support.


American Psychological Association. (2003).


for kids and teens: A guide for parents and teachers.

Washington, DC: Author. Available:


Fitzgerald, H. (1992).

The grieving child: A parent’s


New York: Fireside. ISBN: 0-671-76762-3.

Silverman, P. R. (2000).

Never too young to know: Death

in children’s lives.

New York: Oxford University

Press. ISBN: 0-19-510955-4.

Wolfelt, A. (1996).

Healing the bereaved child: Grief

gardening, growth through grief, and other

touchstones for caregivers.

Ft. Collins, CO:

Companion. ISBN: 1879651106.

Worden, J. W. (1996).

Children and grief: When a parent


New York: Guilford. ISBN: 1572301481.

For Children

Gootman, M. E. (1994).

When a friend dies: A book for

teens about grieving and healing.

Minneapolis: Free

Spirit. ISBN: 0915793660.

Greenlee, S. (1992).

When someone dies. Atlanta:

Peachtree (for ages 9–12). ISBN: 1561450448.

Wolfelt, A. (2001).

Healing your grieving heart for kids.

Ft. Collins, CO: Companion. ISBN: 1879651270.

Websites and Organizations

America Hospice Foundation—


American Psychological Association—


Compassionate Friends—



www.griefnet.org (has an excellent area for


Mister Rogers—

www.misterrogers.org (see the booklet,

Grieving for children 4–10 years)

National Association of School Psychologists—


James Batts, PhD, NCSP, is on the faculty of the School

Psychology program at Eastern Kentucky University.

© 2004 National Association of School Psychologists, 4340 East West Highway,

Suite 402, Bethesda, MD 20814—(301) 657-0270.

Helping Children at Home and School II: Handouts for Families and Educators

Death and Grief from the National Associate of School Pyschologists

Death and Grief:

Supporting Children and Youth

Death and loss within a school community can affect anyone, particularly children and adolescents.

Whether the death of a classmate, family member, or staff member, students may need support in

coping with their grief. Reactions will vary depending on the circumstances of the death and how wellknown

the deceased is both to individual students and to the school community at-large. Students who

have lost a family member or someone close to them will need particular attention. It is important for

adults to understand the reactions they may observe and to be able to identify children or adolescents

who require support. Parents, teachers, and other caregivers should also understand how their own grief

reactions and responses to a loss may impact the experience of a child.


There is no right or wrong way to react to a loss. No two individuals will react in exactly the same way.

Grief reactions among children and adolescents are influenced by their developmental level, personal

characteristics, mental health, family and cultural influences, and previous exposure to crisis, death, and

loss. However, some general trends exist that can help adults understand typical and atypical reactions of

bereaved children. Sadness, confusion, and anxiety are among the most common grief responses and are

likely to occur for children of all ages.

The Grief Process

Although grief does not follow a specified pattern, there are common stages that children and

adolescents may experience with varying sequencing and intensity. The general stages of the grief

process are:


Denial (unwillingness to discuss the loss)


Anger or guilt (blaming others for the loss)


Sorrow or depression (loss of energy, appetite, or interest in activities)


Bargaining (attempts to regain control by making promises or changes in ones life)


Acceptance or admission (acceptance that loss is final, real, significant, and painful)

Grief Reactions of Concern

The above behaviors are expected and natural reactions to a loss. However, the following behaviors may

warrant further attention:

Preschool Level:


Decreased verbalization


Increased anxiety (e.g., clinginess, fear of separation)


Regressive behaviors (e.g., bedwetting, thumb sucking)

Elementary school level:


Difficulty concentrating or inattention


Somatic complaints (e.g., headaches, stomach problems)


Sleep disturbances (e.g., nightmares, fear of the dark)


Repeated telling and acting out of the event




Increased irritability, disruptive behavior, or aggressive behavior


Increased anxiety (e.g., clinging, whining)


Depression, guilt, or anger


Middle and high school level:




Emotional numbing or depression




Avoidance or withdrawal


Peer relationship problems


Substance abuse or other high-risk behavior

Signs That Additional Help Is Needed

Adults should be particularly alert to any of the following as indicators that trained mental health

professional (school psychologist or counselor) should be consulted for intervention and possible referral:


Severe loss of interest in daily activities (e.g., extracurricular activities and friends)


Disruption in ability to eat or sleep


School refusal


Fear of being alone


Repeated wish to join the deceased


Severe drop in school achievement


Suicidal references or behavior

Risk Factors for Increased Reactions

Some students (and adults) may be a greater risk for grief reactions that require professional

intervention. This includes individuals who:


Were very close to the person(s) who died


Were present when the person died


Have suffered a recent loss


Have experienced a traumatic event


Are isolated or lack a personal support network


Suffer from depression, Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, or other mental illness

Keep in mind that groups, particularly adolescents, can experience collective or even vicarious grief.

Students may feel grief, anxiety or stress because they see classmates who were directly affected by a

loss, even if they didn

t personally know the deceased. Additional risk factors include the deceased being

popular or well-known, extensive media coverage, a sudden or traumatic death, homicides or suicides.


How adults in a family or school community grieve following a loss will influence how children and youth

grieve. When adults are able to talk about the loss, express their feelings, and provide support for

children and youth in the aftermath of a loss, they are better able to develop healthy coping strategies.

Adults are encouraged to:


Talk about the loss. This gives children permission to talk about it, too.


Ask questions to determine how children understand the loss, and gauge their physical and emotional



Listen patiently. Remember that each person is unique and will grieve in his or her own way.


Be prepared to discuss the loss repeatedly. Children should be encouraged to talk about, act out, or

express through writing or art the details of the loss as well as their feelings about it, about the

deceased person, and about other changes that have occurred in their lives as a result of the loss.


Give children important facts about the event at an appropriate developmental level. This may

include helping children accurately understand what death is. For younger children, this explanation

might include helping them to understand that the person

s body has stopped working and will never

again work.


Help children understand the death and intervene to correct false perceptions about the cause of the

event, ensuring that they do not blame themselves or others for the situation.


Provide a model of healthy mourning by being open about your own feelings of sadness and grief.


Create structure and routine for children so they experience predictability and stability.



Take care of yourself so you can assist the children and adolescents in your care. Prolonged, intense

grieving or unhealthy grief reactions (such as substance abuse) will inhibit your ability to provide

adequate support.


Acknowledge that it will take time to mourn and that bereavement is a process that occurs over

months and years. Be aware that normal grief reactions often last longer than six months, depending

on the type of loss and proximity to the child.


Take advantage of school and community resources such as counseling, especially if children and

youth do not seem to be coping well with grief and loss.



Seeing a friend try to cope with a loss may scare or upset children who have had little or no experience

with death and grieving. Some suggestions teachers and parents can provide to children and youth to

deal with this



Particularly with younger children, it will be important to help clarify their understanding of death.

See tips above under

helping children cope.


Seeing their classmatesreactions to loss may bring about some fears of losing their own parents

or siblings. Children need reassurance from caretakers and teachers that their own families are

safe. For children who have experienced their own loss (previous death of a parent, grandparent,

sibling), observing the grief of a friend can bring back painful memories. These children are at

greater risk for developing more serious stress reactions and should be given extra support as



Children (and many adults) need help in communicating condolence or comfort messages.

Provide children with age-appropriate guidance for supporting their peers. Help them decide

what to say (e.g.,

Steve, I am so sorry about your father. I know you will miss him very much.

Let me know if I can help you with your paper route

.) and what to expect (see expressions of




Help children anticipate some changes in friendsbehavior. It is important that children

understand that their grieving friends may act differently, may withdraw from their friends for a

while, might seem angry or very sad, etc., but that this does not mean a lasting change in their



Explain to children that their regularfriendship may be an important source of support for

friends and classmates. Even normal social activities such as inviting a friend over to play, going

to the park, playing sports, watching a movie, or a trip to the mall may offer a much needed

distraction and sense of connection and normalcy.


Children need to have some options for providing supportit will help them deal with their fears

and concerns if they have some concrete actions that they can take to help. Suggest making

cards, drawings, helping with chores or homework, etc. Older teens might offer to help the family

with some shopping, cleaning, errands, etc., or with babysitting for younger children.


Encourage children who are worried about a friend to talk to a caring adult. This can help

alleviate their own concern or potential sense of responsibility for making their friend feel better.

Children may also share important information about a friend who is at risk of more serious grief



Parents and teachers need to be alert to children in their care who may be reacting to a friends

loss of a loved one. These children will need some extra support to help them deal with the

sense of frustration and helplessness that many people are feeling at this time.

Adapted from

Death and Grief in the Family: Tips for Parentsin Helping Children at Home and School


, NASP, 2010 and from materials posted on the NASP website after September 11, 2001.

© 2010, National Association of School Psychologists, 4340 East West Highway, Suite 402,

Bethesda, MD 20814,