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STUDENTS GIVE SENATORS THEIR VIEW OF THINGS

Instead of adults doing the talking about issues affecting the territory’s young people, students from St. Croix’s public, parochial and private schools had a chance Monday to tell legislators how they see things.
And what they said may come as some surprise. Almost unanimously, the approximately 20 seventh through twelfth graders who testified before the Senate Committee on Youth and Human Services said they wanted more parental involvement, discipline, sex education and learning resources in their lives.
"There is a lack of interest by parents on their children’s school work," said Vivian Gonzalez, a Free Will Baptist School student.
That lack of interest on the part of parents may be spurred by discomfort, particularly when it comes to discussing sex. Several students said children in earlier grades are more sexually mature and curious than they were at the same age. Without parents broaching the subject and with cursory discussion in the schools, the students said greater emphasis needs to be placed on sex issues in the classroom.
"There is a lack of involvement in our children’s lives," conceded Sen. Emmett Hansen. "Back in the dark ages . . . these things were taught at home."
Stephanie Prince, senior class president at St. Joseph’s High School, agreed with Hansen in that parents should take the lead in educating their kids about the risks of sex. But she said such education also needs to occur in schools, and at a lower grade level.
Prince said that through a mentoring program aimed at younger students, she has heard things that surprise her.
"The sexual urge is starting at an earlier age," she said.
Kimona Simmonds, a ninth grader at the Education Complex, echoed a sentiment mentioned several times: there is a lack of extracurricular activities that keep kids out of trouble. Prince noted that there needs to be a recreational facility for students.
"I grew up during a time when recreation . . . was planned for young people after school," said committee chairman Sen. Vargrave Richards.
As far as technology in the public schools go, Simmonds said the system should step in when parents can’t afford a computer.
"We’re behind in terms of technology," she said. "I basically feel we should have computers in every classroom."
The aim of the hearing, and one scheduled for St. Thomas at 9:30 a.m. on Friday, was to gather information so that the committee can draft a bill to create a youth agency, Richards said. The agency would be guided by communities throughout the territory and then draft policy.
"This has been a learning experience," Richards told the students. "This committee is going to work right away to address the issues you put forward."

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Instead of adults doing the talking about issues affecting the territory’s young people, students from St. Croix’s public, parochial and private schools had a chance Monday to tell legislators how they see things.
And what they said may come as some surprise. Almost unanimously, the approximately 20 seventh through twelfth graders who testified before the Senate Committee on Youth and Human Services said they wanted more parental involvement, discipline, sex education and learning resources in their lives.
"There is a lack of interest by parents on their children’s school work," said Vivian Gonzalez, a Free Will Baptist School student.
That lack of interest on the part of parents may be spurred by discomfort, particularly when it comes to discussing sex. Several students said children in earlier grades are more sexually mature and curious than they were at the same age. Without parents broaching the subject and with cursory discussion in the schools, the students said greater emphasis needs to be placed on sex issues in the classroom.
"There is a lack of involvement in our children’s lives," conceded Sen. Emmett Hansen. "Back in the dark ages . . . these things were taught at home."
Stephanie Prince, senior class president at St. Joseph’s High School, agreed with Hansen in that parents should take the lead in educating their kids about the risks of sex. But she said such education also needs to occur in schools, and at a lower grade level.
Prince said that through a mentoring program aimed at younger students, she has heard things that surprise her.
"The sexual urge is starting at an earlier age," she said.
Kimona Simmonds, a ninth grader at the Education Complex, echoed a sentiment mentioned several times: there is a lack of extracurricular activities that keep kids out of trouble. Prince noted that there needs to be a recreational facility for students.
"I grew up during a time when recreation . . . was planned for young people after school," said committee chairman Sen. Vargrave Richards.
As far as technology in the public schools go, Simmonds said the system should step in when parents can’t afford a computer.
"We’re behind in terms of technology," she said. "I basically feel we should have computers in every classroom."
The aim of the hearing, and one scheduled for St. Thomas at 9:30 a.m. on Friday, was to gather information so that the committee can draft a bill to create a youth agency, Richards said. The agency would be guided by communities throughout the territory and then draft policy.
"This has been a learning experience," Richards told the students. "This committee is going to work right away to address the issues you put forward."