Before You Enlist Video -
Researching Pop Culture and Militarism -
If you have been Harassed by a Military Recruiter -
War: Turning now to Mr. Ralph Waldo Emerson - Christian Science Monitor
Click through to find out
Religion and militarism -
‘A Poison in the System’: Military Sexual Assault - New York Times
Change your Mind?
Talk to a Counselor at the GI Rights Hotline
Ask that your child's information is denied to Military Recruiters
And monitor that this request is honored.
Military Recruiters and Programs Target marginalized communities for recruits...
..and the high schools in those same communities

 Militarization of our Schools

The Pentagon is taking over our poorer public schools. This is the reality for disadvantaged youth.


What we can do

Corporate/conservative alliances threaten Democracy . Progressives have an important role to play.

 Why does NNOMY matter?

Most are blind or indifferent to the problem.
A few strive to protect our democracy.

The Latest News From Sustainable Options For Youth

Wednesday, February 28, 2012 - Our afternoon at Reagan High School, Austin, Texas

Hi, all,

Yesterday, Tami and I had a SOY table at Reagan HS during lunch.  Photos and some notes about it are posted at  and here are some of our observations:

From Susan:

I wasn’t sure what to expect, as Reagan has often been slow for us.  During our visit last spring, we had the chin-up bar and tabled outside for the first time, and that was definitely better.  This time, we didn’t have the chin-up bar, but we asked to be outside, and the weather held for us.  It seems like kids feel more free to come up to the table outdoors, and it’s also easier to hear each other.

Photos are posted at:

We weren’t overly busy at the table, but had steady interest from small groups and individuals, including several staff persons.  Several young men made a point of saying they were planning to enlist, so we had a good chance to talk with them, and they were willing to take fliers.

Reagan, as many of you know, has been threatened with closure due to student test scores and declining enrollment.  But, the district is trying a new college prep program there, which we learned about.  As we arrived, the cafeteria was occupied by 8th graders from Pearce Middle School – a pilot 8th Grade College Prep Academy now meeting at Reagan.  And Reagan itself is now an “Early College High School,” along with LBJ HS, which means that students who qualify academically can take Austin Community College classes on the Reagan campus beginning as early as their first year in high school.  ACC teachers come to the school to teach, and classes and books are all free to the students.  I talked to the woman who coordinates the program, and she was quite excited about it, although she said that the ACC teachers aren’t as familiar with teaching younger students and it is taking some getting used to.  Time will tell, since this is the first year
of the program.

We could see some welcome repairs on campus – for example, the metal awnings over all the walkways had been peeling paint for years, and now they are freshly repainted.  The front office had been remodeled and painted, too. 

As we were packing up, one of the custodial workers stopped to talk to us and asked, “Are you anti-war or anti-military?”  I said that we were critical of the military as a system, but we were pro-human being.   He said he was a veteran (15 years, I think) and had a relatively positive experience in the military, but did admit that he grew tired of being infantry (not combat, though, fortunately).  Then, he spoke for quite a while to express his disgust with the Iraq war.  So, we had quite a bit in common.  He was helpful to us, too, offering to keep his eye on our bags of things while we took fliers to the career counseling rooms.

We asked for our “Ten Excellent Reasons Not to Join the Military” flier to be posted on the bulletin board right next to a recruiter’s flier which you can see in the photos, and the staff person I asked was very supportive of that.

All in all, it felt like a worthwhile visit.

From Tami:

With just one rather short lunch period, we had a meaningful number of students stopping by, if not as large as at some other high schools.  At the Peace Wheel,  the first student who came by landed on the spot asking to name "an accomplishment of a peacemaker that you know."  When he was unsure I asked if there is a fellow student who speaks up if someone is being bullied, and he named a friend who's in a group with him (Austin Voices for Education and Youth) that has a goal of having "less fighting and better attendance."  As usual, most students said that the main person they knew on the wheel was Martin Luther King Jr., and spoke of his "I Have A Dream" speech.  When asked what that dream was, one was able to be more specific about his role in ending segregation.  Several students landed on Rosa Parks, whom we had just added, and were pleased that they could describe her role in refusing to go to the back of the bus.

When students landed on Gidon, we were pleased to tell them that he had been class president at this very high school, as well as his CD that calls on men to stop violence against women.   Students had heard of Cesar Chavez, and one knew that he was a farm worker as his friend made the frequent response about there being a street named after him.  A couple of students landed on Julia Butterfly Hill and Wangari Maathai, but had not heard of her.  Many were very open to taking our list of peacemakers whom I described as "Accomplishing social change without violence."  Two or three students took "Addicted to War" books, one being particularly pleased with the format.   One student said he plans to join the military, but was willing to take a couple of our brochures, "before making such a life changing decision."  When I asked him why he wanted to enlist, he answered that being in the military is "in his family."

A couple of staff members who stopped or passed by thanked us for being there.  At the end, a staff member came by and asked in a very open way, whether we are "anti war or anti military."  This man went on to discuss the "weapons of mass destruction" that were never found in Iraq.  Two students were handing out yellow ribbons to promote "Social Justice Week" and Susan also had a more extended discussion with them about the issues they were highlighting.  One older man in a military looking uniform, who was likely part of the JROTC program there, walked by and asked in a cordial way "How are you today?"  I responded with equal courtesy, saying we were doing well and asking the same of him.  As we took some of our materials to the relevant school program, we had discussions on recruiters and the Americorps alternative with a few teachers.

Thursday, January 26, 2012 - A different day at Akins High School, Austin, Texas

Hi, all,

This Tuesday, Tami and I tabled at Akins HS, which is either the first or second largest school in our district and largely Latino.  We were stocked up on some new literature from the War Resisters League, including a new flier written and designed by youth activists in NYC.  The flier is titled “Know Before You Go, Cause There’s No Reset Button.”  We also had more of the fliers written for women and a new brochure about the power of nonviolence, which ties in to Occupy.  We had “Addicted to War” in English and Spanish.  We brought a bunch of folders and stencil supplies as well as a new “paz, amor” design and card stock in case any students wanted to make valentines…

In the past, we’ve had slow days at Akins, despite being placed right in the middle of the cafeteria with good visibility and lots of kids going by us.  I have wondered if we’ve been slow because of us being white folks or perhaps because the campus police and other school officials stand in the middle of the cafeteria and keep a close eye on things  and kids may not want to be seen coming to our table.  Last time, when Hart was with us and we were trying out the chin-up bar for the first time, we had a lot of kids come up to the table for the first few minutes -- until school officials told us we couldn’t use the chin-up bar indoors.  So, for the second lunch, we moved our table outside and set up the chin-up bar there, and we had a better response.  I thought that surely this time, with the art project and all our good stuff, we’d attract a crowd even indoors.  We got set up,  the lunch bell rang and kids streamed in , and even though a
few students came right over to the table and were eager to do the stenciling and peace wheel, we didn’t get much more interest from students after that, even though we were right next to a line of kids waiting for a food cart.  It didn’t work to move outdoors this time because it was a rainy, cool day.  Sometimes it’s just hard to know what the factors are. 

We did learn some things from students, though.  One of the young women who hung out at the table made a birthday card for her friend and included a Honduran flag in her design.  Then, she asked if Americorps was open to non-US citizens.  I should have known the answer, which was no,  unfortunately, it isn’t.   But, we did want to assure her that non-citizens in Texas who have attended a Texas high school for at least three years are eligible for state financial aid for college even if they aren’t eligible for federal aid.  Her question made us think more about the needs of undocumented students, and we are doing some research to be able to provide some info about scholarships for both Hispanic students in general and undocumented Hispanic students in particular.  I found some info on this MALDEF site (Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund):

Many undocumented students don’t know they can get financial aid for college in Texas (keeping that right is one of the only things I’ve agreed with Gov. Perry on…), or they may be afraid to ask school counselors about it.  So, we should really make it a prominent message at our table.  If any of you have good leads for us on resources for Hispanic students and undocumented students, please let us know.  Seeing this article in today’s Statesman made this issue even more important for us to address, I think: (redirects to Dallas News)

Here is Tami’s report from our day at Akins:

Since fewer students approached our table, there are only a few experiences to share.  Of the students who came to try out the
peace wheel, the only person students knew for sure was Martin Luther King.  One young man knew the Flobots and the essential messages of their music.  Others had heard of Gandhi and another Cesar Chavez, but didn't know specifics of what they did.  Another young woman landed on Cesar Chavez and knew much more specifically than students at any of the schools about his organizing with farm workers.  When I asked how she came to learn about this, she said she'd written an essay about him as part of her application to the Ann Richards Academy for Girls.  A senior male saw our "Addicted to War" books and said he had signed it out of the school library, but was pleased to have his own copy when offered one.  Finally, a senior woman came to check out the wheel and learned about Wangari Maathai.   We then talked about her acceptance at one university already and her plans to be a doctor.  She said she had two scholarships but needed more.  I told her
about Americorps as a part time option while in college or a way to have help paying back loans after graduation.  A group of 10th grade students doing art with Susan also had goals of going to college and we shared information/brochures about Americorps with them as well.

Some photos from our table can be seen at
Thanks for any ideas and resources.

-- Susan



Thursday, December 8, 2011 - The Peace Table at Bowie High School, Austin, Texas

Hi, all,


On Thursday, Tami, George and I tabled at Bowie HS and had perhaps our best day there ever. Bowie is either the first or second largest school in our district. George is a member of Veterans for Peace visiting Austin from Canada, and it was great to have him joining us. Tami was getting over a bug, and because we were busy, it was especially good to have three of us at the table.

Photos are posted at:

Here are George’s observations about our day, and then mine. From George: Following is a reflection on our time at Bowie High School on Dec 8. We were greeted at the school office and asked to check in and if we had checked with the school scheduler before hand. Bowie is where, on a previous occasion, Sustainable Options for Youth, then called Non-Military Options for Youth ,was told to leave the premises until the Principal had a chance to review and read the literature on our table. This in spite of the fact that the Austin Independent School Board had cleared our group to visit Austin high schools years ago. This was our third visit there since being asked to leave. My reflection is that it was a very postive experience for me, interacting with hundreds of high schoolers at the two tables we had set up in front of the school cafeteria for the two lunch periods. My guess is that no fewer than 300 students stopped at the table to play the Peace wheel game, make folders with stencils or pick up peace literature and brochures on the table. I personally got into about a dozen more in depth conversations with individual students.

Thursday, December 8, 2011 - The Peace Table at Bowie High School, Austin, Texas

Hi, all,


On Thursday, Tami, George and I tabled at Bowie HS and had perhaps our best day there ever. Bowie is either the first or second largest school in our district. George is a member of Veterans for Peace visiting Austin from Canada, and it was great to have him joining us. Tami was getting over a bug, and because we were busy, it was especially good to have three of us at the table.

Photos are posted at:

Here are George’s observations about our day, and then mine. From George: Following is a reflection on our time at Bowie High School on Dec 8. We were greeted at the school office and asked to check in and if we had checked with the school scheduler before hand. Bowie is where, on a previous occasion, Sustainable Options for Youth, then called Non-Military Options for Youth ,was told to leave the premises until the Principal had a chance to review and read the literature on our table. This in spite of the fact that the Austin Independent School Board had cleared our group to visit Austin high schools years ago. This was our third visit there since being asked to leave. My reflection is that it was a very postive experience for me, interacting with hundreds of high schoolers at the two tables we had set up in front of the school cafeteria for the two lunch periods. My guess is that no fewer than 300 students stopped at the table to play the Peace wheel game, make folders with stencils or pick up peace literature and brochures on the table. I personally got into about a dozen more in depth conversations with individual students.

One teacher from the Spanish Department stopped by for a brief chat and was very supportive. He shared that the language department was short staffed having laid off four teachers at the beginning of this school year. Custodial staff was very friendly and supportive. We ran out of free folders for the kids to stencil, so bought some more from the school store at .50 per folder. We ran out of some our literature and will have to replenish stock for our next high school visit. We found a parking space in visitor parking quite near the front door. For me a very good and postive effort. I learned alot about where today's teenagers are coming from on a variety of issues. Most I talked to were very aware of Occupy Austin and what those issues were and several had actually visited the site down at city Hall of Austin.

Submitted by George Taylor, Veterans for Peace chapter 16 From Susan:

George told us that he’s already visited Occupy Austin four times since he’s been in Austin, which is more than I have! -- So it was cool that he could talk with students about it from first-hand experience, since the Occupy Movement is one of the items on the Peace Wheel.

At Bowie, we have a good set-up spot in a hall just outside the cafeteria, with good student traffic and bright window light. There was a student banner posted on the wall above our table that was about trust being a component of healthy relationships, so we felt that was appropriate to our message, too. The hall adjoins the gym, so groups of women’s basketball and volleyball players came by the table, and some students practiced dance routines in the hall between lunches.

One of the first people to stop by the table was a custodial worker who liked the peace wheel and said she’d like to make one for her Bible Study group. She looked it over carefully to see how it was made. Then, a student’s mom stopped by and took a bunch of the “military realities” fliers because she said that a Marine representative had come to the school and had talked in her son’s class recently, so her son was suddenly gung-ho about the Marines – which she was not.

As is typical, students at first walked quickly by the table on their way to lunch, just glancing at us, but as soon as a few students came over to ask what we were about, then that attracted more students, and we were busy after that. I was at the ‘art’ end of the table, where more students than usual took us up on the offer to use our stencils to make their own folder art. I had brought about 40 blank folders, and, as George mentions, we ran out toward the end, but Tami noticed that a little student supplies shop was open down the hall and they sold paper folders there! So, we made two trips down there to get more!

At Bowie in the past, we’ve usually had a group of JROTC students come up to the table with an attitude, challenging our literature and our messages. We welcome that! There are JROTC programs in four of our high schools, but it’s Bowie where the students seem to feel most confident to argue with us. This time, a few students stopped by who I expect were part of the JROTC, but they didn’t argue. One student ran up and asked, “Do you have any books about the military?” (one of our banners read, “Books, Not Bombs.”) I think he was pulling our chain, but we said, yes, we did, and handed him a copy of “Addicted to War.” He seemed a little surprised, but he took it. Quite a few students took “military realities” fliers and seemed to look at them seriously.

Chatting a little with students as they did the stenciling, I observed, as we often do, that students are very concerned about: animals, the environment, costs of college, their friends and family. That’s partly why the art tries to link the environment with peace. As in: pandas can’t survive in a world forever at war. And the same for humans. We also gave out a lot of Americorps brochures, as most students had not heard of it.

Like at McCallum HS, students sat in little groups on the floor of the hallway during lunch. It’s nice to see how communal they are at that age. There was a more laid-back feeling at Bowie this time than I’d felt in past visits.

A favorite moment was when one student said to another as they were stenciling, something like, “this is pretty fun, after all, at the crazy people booth.” I said, “Yup, we are crazy about the earth and we want it to survive and be healthy forever. So—crazy in a good way?” And the students both smiled and nodded. Tami also heard a student say something like, “This is a cool table.” So, of course, these kinds of comments make us feel it’s worthwhile.

Until next time,




Wednesday, November 2, 2011 - Hanging out at LBJ/LASA High School, Austin, Texas

Hi, all,
Today, Tami and I visited LBJ/LASA high school and had an interesting day.  A few photos are posted at

Here’s our take on it:

From Susan:

As most of you know, LBJ and the Liberal Arts and Science Academy are two schools within the same building.  LBJ students had the first lunch, and right away, a bunch of students came over to do the stencil art and spin the peace wheel.  Several also took the military reality fliers and talked to us about the military.  One young woman said her brother is having problems in the Marines, but then she said she wanted to join the Marines, too, in order to help him.  I tried very hard to not just say “NO! DON’T DO THAT!”  Often, students are really casting about, and although our encounters with them are usually brief, we get a sense of the difficult decisions in their lives.

I made a new stencil design based on the Food Not Bombs logo, but the most popular are still the Panda images and the “Peace Takes Courage” slogan.

During the LASA lunch, the situation was quite different – hardly any interest from students.  Most of the magnet school students are likely to have more post-high school plans in the works.

Tami and I brought some Americorps fliers to the career counseling room afterward because we are noticing that schools don’t seem to keep Americorps materials around.  That seems strange to me, since some schools actually have Americorps members on staff in the college/career counseling areas.  The counselor we talked to today, in fact, said she had done an Americorps program herself.

One other thing I’ve been noticing is fewer military recruitment posters in the schools than I used to see.  I don’t know if this is a conscious choice by school staff, but it is encouraging.

A final observation is that, so far, the students who have told us they know about OccpuyWallStreet have been Anglo, and students of color tend to not be as aware of it. (It comes up because we have it as one of the items on the peace wheel)  One LASA student who breezed by the table said he had been to Occupy Austin on two days and seemed excited about it.

From Tami:
During the first lunch period we had quite a few curious and friendly visitors.  One difference this time was that more students seemed to have plans to be in the military.  One student who said that he had already signed up still seemed firm in his decision.  He was open to taking the relevant brochure that explained his rights in case he changes his mind.  Another  male student told me he had made the decision to be in the military, but was willing to take the brochure, "Do You Know Enough to Enlist?" when I suggested he gather a range of information before he actually joins.  He was moving on with friends, so I didn't have a chance to ask his reasons for wanting to be in the military.  He had previously turned the peace wheel and been interested in those who had promoted social change.  Among others who took a turn on the wheel, one knew Cesar Chavez led boycotts (the first student from any school so far to know that) and others knew he had done something positive for people of Mexican heritage.  Several students chose someone they knew of, Martin Luther King.  One student said "they brought black and white together" and another specifically mentioned the "I Have A Dream" speech as promoting better racial relations.  None referred to the intense segregation and lack of voting rights that led to the Civil Rights Movement, although one student did refer to Rosa Park's refusal to follow the rule black people had to go to the back of the bus.  As at other schools, no students knew what the Greensboro Sit In was.  Perhaps Rosa Parks may be a substitute at some point, as she is a another female role model.  One student landed on Julia Butterfly Hill, and didn't recognize her name, but then said he knew of her when I described her effort to save Redwood trees from being cut down for lumber.  In regard to Gandhi, one student had read about him and knew that he had used a hunger strike, but did not recall what the goal of it had been.  As with all participants, we shared brief info in our own words, and then offered them a list with descriptions of all the people on the wheel.  All of the students were quite willing to take the list and put it in folders they chose or created with Susan.  Only one student knew of Occupy Wall Street and he spoke with both of us.  One more activity we did was to give out a fair amount of information about Americorps, which students hadn't heard of, but were pleased to find is another option to pay for college.  One student knew of the Peace Corp and said she planned to participate in that program.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011 - Notes from our day at Crockett HS, Austin, Texas

Hi, all,
Today, Tami and I tabled at Crockett HS in South Austin.  Crockett is right across the street from an ACC campus, and it was good to hear from several of the students that they are either taking classes there or plan to before they graduate.  We did our usual with the peace wheel and the stencil art project to draw students over, which helps us to have more time to talk with them.  Here is Tami’s report back, and there are photos at
BTW, this article was in today's Statesman, reprinted from The Washington Post: "Recent veterans more likely to be unemployed than civilians," which is one of our talking points. Tami's report back:

We had students come to our table in smaller groups at this school so were able to have more varied conversations.  Quite a few were interested in the peace wheel and more students were aware that Cesar Chavez  had been involved in helping "workers."  One specifically chose Martin Luther King, as that was the only person they knew, and several others also named him as the most familiar.  One knew about Helen Keller being blind and deaf, but asked what she had done related to peace/social justice.  None had heard of Julia Butterfly Hill or Wangarai Maathai, but were impressed when they learned more about their efforts to preserve trees and forests.  More students took copies of our brochures on the military than at any of the other schools so far, and several asked some very good questions in an open minded way.  Looking at the sheet on ten reasons not to join the military, one student who said he planned to join in the Marines when he graduates asked about the item regarding being lied to.  My answer was that they may be promised a certain kind of training or location and then be assigned to something very different in a combat zone.  He was only a freshman, so has time to reconsider enlisting before making a commitment.  One young man was a foreign exchange student from South Korea and expressed serious concern about why the US got into the war in Vietnam.  I should have asked how he knew of that war, and we wondered afterward if he had family members who were sent there in his country's army.  As I wrote this, I checked in Wikipedia and learned that "between 1965 and 1973, 312,853 South Korean soldiers fought in Vietnam."  A female student spoke of a friend who was killed in Afghanistan and since then having persuaded another male friend not to join the military.  Several students spoke of the education benefits as a reason to join the military and we shared a lot of information about Americorps.  The one student who had heard of it was in a program ("College Forward") to encourage low income students to go to college that was staffed by Americorps members.  She spoke of wanting to go to a college in Boulder, Colorado started by Tibetan monks.  She and several other female students said they planned to major in environmental studies.  One teacher who came to our table spoke of promoting peace in multiple ways and said she was glad we were there.  Students at Crockettt were friendly, curious and open to learning more about our peace related information.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011 - Notes from our day at McCallum HS, Austin, Texas

Here are summaries from Tami and me about our tabling date today at McCallum HS, which was great! 
Photos at

From Tami:

Today at McCallum there was a lot of interest in the peace wheel, and students knew about several of the Peace Heroes, offering suggestions of others as well.  One student was able to share a detailed account of Ghandi's salt protest and another Wangari Maathai's efforts to reverse deforestation in Kenya.  Several knew about Helen Keller and were pleased to learn that she had been an activist for women's voting rights and peace.  One student who had recently moved from a western state with few Hispanic people said she hadn't heard of Cesar Chavez until she came to Austin.  Some of the names offered as other peacemakers they knew of were Oscar Shindler, Mother Teresa, Lisa Rogers (Program Director at Out Youth) and singer Michael Franti.  On Franti, the student had chosen him for a History paper on a social activist and spoke of his choice to not wear shoes in solidarity with many people in the world who can't afford them.  Quite a few students knew of Gidon (local hip hop artist/ poet) and one said he had rapped with him.  A significant number had also heard of the Occupy Wall Street assemblies, and one student connected that with Abbie Hoffman's street theater throwing dollars on Wall Street "in the 70's."  The young woman who had participated in the Austin Wall Street demonstrations asked how she could get more information about our group and we gave her a flyer with our website listed.  Another remembered past tablings by SOY and expressed an interest in assisting the next time that we come to this school.  I asked one student if he had heard of African recording artist and peace activist Emmanuel Jal, and he had not.  When I told about this young man's history of being taken as a child soldier in Sudan, the student told me that there is a concert coming up in Kenya that is going to feature African musicians for peace.  If anyone knows more about this, please share that info with us.  I also spoke with some of the students about alternative ways of paying for college.  One who was very knowledgeable about the Peace Corps, said they prefer students after graduation with some skills to offer.  She spoke of that as a way she could do something worthwhile and get help paying off large student loans she expected to have to take out.  Few had heard about Americorps, but many were interested and took brochures with more information on that program.  On the whole, this was a school in which a significant number of students came to our table and engaged in sophisticated conversations about peace and social justice related topics.

From Susan:

McCallum HS is the arts magnet school in north central Austin.  Of all Austin's public high schools, McCallum seems to have the most even mix of ethnicities among the student population.

We brought our usual materials, along with enough supplies for students who wanted to do some stencil art on the spot, and we had many takers!  It usually takes a few minutes for a student or two to come over to the table, and then once that happens, more kids are attracted, and it goes well from there.  At my end of the table, I really enjoyed seeing how the kids used the colors in inventive ways, and we were able to talk a bit about their future plans, and other things at the school.  I noticed quite a few students slipping counter-recruitment fliers into their folders as they hung around the table.  I talked with one student who spoke about her father having been in the Navy and having secret missions that he wasn't allowed to talk about with his family.  While she was stenciling, she also talked about a bullying situation she was experiencing at school and how she was responding to it.  While talking, she came up with some good solutions to her dilemma.  She also talked about how much she likes animals, and she knew a lot about them, too.  I learned, for example, that sharks are territorial!

During the second lunch, a group of about 20 students sat down in the middle of the hallway right next to us to eat their lunches together.  At first, I thought:  It's OccupyMcCallum!  But, I guess they were just having lunch in an accustomed spot.  It was sweet the way they were so joined at the hip, talking and doing homework in one big clump.  The school administrators seemed used to it and didn't give them a hard time.  The student group didn't pay much attention to us, but I gathered they felt comfortable with us being there.

I added the OccupyAustin event to the peace wheel, and some of the kids did know about it.  One student said she had been at City Hall all weekend (except for overnight) and that her dad had spoken at one of the rallies!

One school administrator who was monitoring the lunch period came over to us and asked us about our group.  She said she was glad we were there.  She said that the Marines had tabled once so far this semester, but she hadn't seen more military presence than that so far.  We usually hear at McCallum that recruiters are there a lot, and it's still early in the school year.

One student said she was part of a Philosophy Club and writes for a school literary journal that is different from the school newspaper.  Others talked about doing music and film at school.  They are about to perform a musical this weekend in their new performing arts center.



Wednesday, 28 September 2011 - Notes from Lanier High School, Austin, Texas

Tami and I each wrote up some impressions from our SOY table today at Lanier HS, Austin, so here they are from both of us!:

From Tami:

My time with students at Lanier was around the Peace Wheel, and it continues to be surprising that most recognize the names of Martin Luther King, Cesar Chavez, and Gandhi but are not so aware of specifically what issues they addressed.  One student did connect Rosa Parks with Dr. King, and knew that her activity involved a protest on a bus.  Perhaps this could be a woman to add to the wheel.  The person students knew most about was Helen Keller and how she had overcome being deaf and blind.

After the students shared what they knew about the person who came up on their turn of the wheel, I described what the person changed and emphasized how they did this in non violent ways.  Several took the informational page that accompanies the wheel and seemed genuinely motivated to learn more about even the people they had not heard of.   Many also seemed to like talking with an adult who was interested in their thoughts and goals.  Most of the students I spoke with were juniors and seniors, so we talked about their post high school plans.

All described goals involving additional education, with career plans such as being a psychologist for victims of crime, being a crime investigation tech, or studying business and opening a vegetarian restaurant.  One young man who was also enthusiastically stenciling folder covers with Susan was a senior active in choir and school plays said he wants to work in those performance areas when he graduates.  With all of the students who shared their future educational goals, I asked if they knew about Americorps and most did not.  Again several asked for the brochure and benefits descriptions we had on the table.

Since one staff member had said students are often given the impression that the military is their only option, we wanted to make sure they know there are others.  When I pointed to the brochures we had about information the recruiters might not tell them, many made comments indicating that they did not feel positively about the military. Students continued to come up, remain talking, or working on their stenciled folders right up to when the bell rang and it was time for them to return to class.

From Susan:

Today, when Tami picked me up for our tabling date, she said that she’d just heard that nobel laureate, Wangari Maathai had died.  Ms. Maathai is included on our Peace Wheel, and not many students have known who she was, so it felt important to raise some awareness about her and the Kenyan Greenbelt Movement.  Tami later sent a link to a good article about Ms. Maathai published in the Washington Post, which I’ve reposted at our site:

I also added the current “#OccupyWallStreet” action to our Peace Wheel because it’s happening right now and is led by young people.  Tami said that none of the students who spun the wheel today landed on that one, so we’re not sure if any students had heard about it or not, but we’ll see at our next table.  Of course, there is very little about the Wall Street action in the main stream press, but I’ve appreciated the coverage provided by the young journalists at

I brought the stenciling supplies and when lunch began, I started doing some stenciling at our table, which attracted a student, which soon attracted a whole bunch of students!  I had to go to the school’s art room to borrow more brushes, as it really drew a crowd of stencil artists today! (The art teachers were really nice about it.)  Lanier only has one lunch period, and we were busy throughout.  I didn’t even have time to take any photos of our goings-on!  I always like how the kids think of new things to do with the stencils, like mixing the colors differently or mixing and matching the images and words.

A few staff people stopped by to talk and they were supportive.  A few of the students who hung out at the table talked to us about wanting to join the military, and they were open to our materials.  We heard from staff and students that the recruiters are there a lot.  Student population is mostly Latino.

In the school cafeteria are a number of large murals high on the walls.  I’ve noted them before – they are pictures and brief quotes from people like Mother Theresa, Gandhi, Cesar Chavez, Sitting Bull,  Maya Angelou.  They are nice, but one of them is strangely different than the others.  It’s a picture of Pancho Villa, but with a quote not by him, but by Woodrow Wilson: “The seed of revolution is repression.”  Wait a minute—didn’t Wilson preside over the US repression and military occupation of Haiti, for example?  Didn’t he suppress anti-war activists in the US?  Hm-m.

We checked our materials in the library, where the librarian seems supportive and keeps the fliers on shelves near the college guides and military stuff.

All in all, a good visit, where it was clear that students enjoy being creative.



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