Etcetera - 03/19/12

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Think you know about Lincoln High School and its students? A new eye-opening video gives depth and meaning to the school and The Health Center at Lincoln's mission and its results from interviews of students and staff.

Their lives are being turned around, despite such statistics as the 60 percent who have lived with substance abuse; 30 percent who have watched their mothers being physically abused; and 40 percent who have become so angry they've been enraged.

One student talks about being surrounded by this kind of behavior and not knowing how to act at school, to just "be normal."

But counseling has changed her outlook so she can now participate and focus on learning. She is proud to be a part of the school and this process.

Another student is pulling down good grades, an about-face from feeling like he was nothing, didn't have a future and being just totally outraged at everything. The health center helped these students "in so many good ways," one student said.

Katherine Boehm, clinic coordinator, said many of the students haven't been to a doctor since they were 8 or younger and haven't been vaccinated. This is often a result of their parents being unable to afford the expense or not having time to take them to a physician.

Lincoln science teacher Erik Gordon said they're just not healthy because of their high-risk lifestyles. "They live lives of drug and alcohol abuse. They live lives of risky behaviors. It leads to more colds and flus than most people might have." Students' lack of nutrition means their immune systems are not up where they should be, he said.

The clinic helps improve attendance because students can get treatment when they have the sniffles or other health concerns. With trust and abandonment issues rife among these students, being able to come to a place where they're comfortable and knowing that those they talk to care is important, too.

During a recent Walla Walla Public School Board meeting, Health Center at Lincoln Executive Director Holly Howard, who works alongside Dr. Alison Kirby, showed the 20-minute video that highlights the work being done there.

It was sensitively produced by Walla Wallan Sarah Koenigsberg of Tensegrity Productions.

Nearly every Lincoln student uses the health center for medical and mental health care, according to the school district's Week in Review online newsletter. Students in the video praised the center for its help in making such a positive difference their lives. It's available on the health center's Facebook page at tinyurl.com/6nc5pay.

Etcetera appears in daily and Sunday editions. Annie Charnley Eveland can be reached at annieeveland@wwub.com or afternoons at 526-8313.

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