With more than 50 schools in Lodi Unified School District and about 28,000 students, what’s interesting to kids and teenagers ends up interesting the rest of us.
Here’s a look at some of the top trends of 2011 among Lodi schools and the kids who fill them up:
Administrators took a stand against bullying when Lodi Unified hosted an anti-bullying day in October. Students heard presentations on how to recognize and avoid bullying in person as well as digitally. But all year there has been a push to resolve conflicts calmly. Galt Joint Union High School District brought in a guest speaker to teach kids how to identify and deal with bullies.
School boards broadened their focus beyond the college track, realizing that while not every high school graduate will go to a university, most will need to be prepared for some kind of higher education, and all need basic job skills. In this vein, Lodi Unified removed the requirement that all high schools offer only college prep or higher classes.
Teachers are continually learning that even young students can pick up a new tech gadget and have it running in 10 minutes or less. The classrooms lucky enough to score iPads this year have explored the vast array of available learning apps with glee. Combine that with an Elmo digital projector and a SmartBoard in place of the old school chalkboard for a classroom chock full of education friendly technology.
Maybe this one’s more for the teen girls, but there is quite a lot of digital oversharing going on. It takes only seconds to snap a photo on an iPhone, add it to your Instagram account and then upload it to the social media platform of your choice. This has left us with an abundance of cute puppy pictures and shots of a group of shoes.
But digital natives have also accepted the reality that their parents are no longer able to dole out pocket money on demand. Instead, teenagers turn everything they can into a social experience. Watching an episode of “Glee” doesn’t mean sitting alone on a couch. There’s a cellphone and laptop within reach to download a favorite song, post a funny quote on Facebook and Twitter and check in with a friend to compare notes on Rachel Berry’s outfit.
Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow has influenced a generation of pranksters. When the kids got tired of planking (lying immobile on virtually any surface while holding your body flat like a board), they instead imitated Tebow’s legendary prayer stance that he puts into practice after every touchdown. It explains all the kneeling pictures.
Is your child’s wrist covered in brightly colored rubber strings? Then you have a fan of SillyBandz in your household. These are cheap little bracelets in the shape of fruits, animals and other themes. Once they’re on a wrist, of course, it’s impossible to tell what shape they are meant to be. Students collect and trade them to the point that some classrooms have banned them during school hours.
Last year, fashion took on tribal notes, even among young women without a scrap of non-European ancestry to their name. Long flowy fabrics with batik and tribal prints were paired with artfully messy braids and topped off with colorful feathers clipped into one’s hair. Despite this, drum circles have not caught on among the high school set.
Dubstep, a style of electronic dance music, has taken off among top artists as well as famous club DJs, plus countless kids holed up in their rooms. What makes this cool is that nearly any kid with a laptop can take his or her favorite song and transform it by adding electronic rhythms, slow pounding bass and clipped samples on loop to create a haunting track. Patience and earplugs for the parents of amateurs are not included.
Maybe it’s the economy, but more and more teens are willing to take their bikes around town. Or it could be the great single speed options available. Multi-gear road bikes can be intimidating, so instead many are turning to beach cruisers, or what’s known as “fixie bikes.” These are single-speed creations without brakes or the ability to coast, enabling the rider to even ride backwards. Cool.
Contact reporter Sara Jane Pohlman at firstname.lastname@example.org.