Missing the Boat with Donald Sterling and Athletes…21st Century Solutions

Ellen Belluomini, LCSW
Missing the Boat with Donald Sterling and Athletes…21st Century Solutions
Posted: 5/27/2014 16:00

Here is how a social worker would work with the Donald Sterlings or other offending athletes. I am addressing negative behaviors of the athletic community, but the same can be said of any community (celebrities, corporations, or CEO’s). Financial consequences and short bans from playing usually accompany misbehavior. Are these consequences effective? Social workers know they are not.

Consequences are given by direct authorities of the athletic community or by our judicial system. These consequences usually center on fines and suspensions. Suspensions can be anywhere from one game to a lifetime suspension, but lifetime suspensions are rare. The NBA donates their fines to charities, but let’s be specific. How about when these offenders receive fines; they are required to pay a charity(s) directly associated with their offense? The NBA is the first to start this with Sterling’s fines going toward promoting anti-discrimination and tolerance. The NFL chooses only four charities (the Lombardi Cancer Research Center, Brian Piccolo Cancer Fund, ALS Neuromuscular Research Foundation, and the Player’s Association Assistance Trust Fund), none related to actual violence, which is usually the reason of the offense. Why are the fines not given to evidence based programs for violence prevention or intervention?
Who has the power in these situations and what can they do about negative behavior?
1. Judicial System Judges have discretion in their sentencing. Advocate for sentencing befitting of the act. Get creative with sentencing.Develop sentencing guidelines with advocacy groups of the associated issue. There is a 35%conviction rate of athletes accused of sexual assault compared with 77% of the general public according to the Los Angeles Times writer Maryann Hudson. If Judges could give alternative, meaningful, sentencing this might be higher.
2. Sports Commissioners (i.e. NBA’s Adam Silver, NFL’s Roger Goodell, etc.) can tie in behavior clauses into contracts. Commissioners need to meet as a group and make decisions about what clauses will be consistent with every contract. No negotiation with violence clauses.They should be a part of every contract. The commissioners can develop a website to include fans as to the distribution of fines athletes receive. If the issue is violence, organizations can post their evidence based programs and fans can vote. Make the organizations part of the solution.
3. Sponsors – There are some sponsors who drop athletes from their endorsement deals, but what about those they keep? Riders in contracts about negative behavior can allow endorsement deals to be void when athletes break the law. Sponsors can use the media attention to support their product because they reinforce values and ethics towards non-violence. The sponsor can give the remaining contract of the athlete to the corresponding charities and publicize their work. Or include the public by changing the profit of a footwear product of the athlete’s to go to charity. Write this behavior clause in every contract.
4. Other Athletes – Positive and negative peer pressure. Turning jerseys inside out is great team solidarity.What about in the locker room? Taking other athletes aside to discuss how they handle stress, encourage counseling, or exert social pressure about what is not acceptable behavior for a person, can be effective ways of addressing the situation. The most important thing is back up your words with behavior.
5. Fans– Fans are powerful. Organized bans of fanfare buying, writing letters to sponsors saying you will not buy X until action is taken, or organizing campaigns on social media addressing unacceptable behavior can make a difference. Money and perception tied together is an avenue to create change. Make your voice heard through social media outlets for alternative sentencing and sanctions impacting these athletes and their owners. Send shout outs on Facebook, make memes on Tumblr or tweet (#nomorekobejerseys) when you choose NOT to buy something because of negative behavior.
When Women Athletes Attack
There are many less women who are in sports committing violent acts, but there are a few. When a female athlete commits a crime what happens to her? Tonya Harding committed a crime of clubbing Nancy Kerrigan’s knee. What was her consequence? She was banned for life from competing in the United States. Have you heard of any consequence this severe in football, hockey, or basketball? No. Extended prison sentences are the only thing holding back professional male athletes.
Below is a chart encouraging alternate sentencing for athletes. This excludes sentencing guidelines for assaults, sexual assaults, DUI manslaughter, and other behaviors punishable by prison time.
Volunteer Activity or exercise
Learning Outcomes
Acts of poor sportsmanship
AYSO soccer coach, finance and create a video/website/app about good sportsmanship
everyone plays, balanced teams, and positive coaching, prevention for future generations
Animal Abuse
Pet shelters, working with Animal Cops/Rescue, finance and create a documentary about animal abuse
Learning empathy, seeing the devastating effects of abuse and neglect
Assault – Male to Male. or Female to Female
Anger management classes, counseling, group therapy, finance and become a part of an advocacy group to address violence of youth in a school system, create anger management app
Education and empathy training, prevention for future generations
Assault – Male to Female, or Female to Male
Attend a 40 hour DV training, attend counseling, group therapy, Anger management classes, Advocate with NASW about policy changes for DV in the national agenda, Finance and participate in a documentary about an aspect of DV, become a board member of a DV prevention program,
Education and empathy training, prevention for future generations
Develop a video about consequences of driving drunk, hear from parents and friends of people who have died from drunk drivers, develop course for other DUI drivers with hands on experiences (donating virtual reality equipment etc.) Start a foundation for distribution of a free Breathalyzer.
Educate self and community about dangers to drinking and driving. Empathy and understanding of consequences.
Volunteer at the NAACP, volunteer at homeless shelters,
Develop curriculum for team based learning about racism with specialists, attend and facilitate program to companies about diversity, exposure to diverse situations across the “ism” spectrum, fund and develop free apps addressing diversity acceptance for kids
Education and sensitization of diverse populations, empathy development, prevention for future generations
Substance Abuse
Start a AA, NA, or CA group and continue it for a year, volunteer at homeless shelters, create free lectures and YouTube videos to community about struggles with use and abuse
Community support, personal understanding and recovery support
Use of drug enhancements
Run a support group for long term drug enhancement users. Create a website or app about the negative effects of this drug for kids, give reports on books about these drugs on a blog.
Personal experience with long term effects deters further use, prevention for future generations
Technology adds to constructive alternatives to consequences and tracking of positive behaviors. All volunteer work can be tracked by GPS and taking photos on Snapchat, then sending them to a caseworker, athletic organization, or parole officer. This prevents people from hiring other people to go for them. Many other ways of If you have any additions, please place them in the comments section or suggest them on websites of owners, athletic organizations, or sponsor pages. Everyone can be proactive on any level. If we all acted on one of these, violence would be addressed through proactive means in sports. #athletesaccountable


Written By Ellen Belluomini, LCSW

Missing the Boat with Donald Sterling and Athletes…21st Century Solutions was originally published @ Bridging the Digital Divide in Social Work Practice and has been syndicated with permission.

Don’t Forget to Ask This Question: How Safe Is Your Campus?


Many juniors have intensified their college search; hoping to find a “good fit/match” for their undergraduate education. Even sophomores and freshmen are engaged in the process, rightfully so, with plans to investigate options during their vacation trips or while participating in a summer enrichment program.

During their preparation with numerous resources, particularly recommended questions, their enthusiasm and naïve experience might prevent them from investigating more closely some critical areas of college life.  As a school counselor, I remember how oblivious many teens were to the potential dangers at weekend parties; particularly, the events without chaperones.  The “nothing bad will happen to me” attitude was rather prevalent among all intellectual levels.

Now, let’s fast forward to a college search.  I’ve observed in both a school setting and privately, for thirty-two years, that campus security is not a priority area of concern for most college-bound students; more for some parents, though.  But in all fairness to high school students, it was not for me, either, when I developed my list in 1967.  I have interviewed counseling colleagues in different social and geographic environments to determine if students in high-risk areas might be more concerned about the issue; however, the conclusion is not overwhelming positive.

For years, I’ve shared my list of Goode Questions to Ask College Admissions Counselors to my constituents.

Some questions regarding campus security should include:

  • Do students feel safe on campus?  What security measures are used (blue lights, escort service, call boxes)?
  • How secure are the dorms? What identification is required to enter?
  • Is there an alcohol problem, and, if so, how is the college handling it?  What is the incidence of binge drinking?
  • Are the students sensitive to and respectful of individual differences?
  • How is the diversity climate on campus?
  • What is the campus and neighboring community/city/town relationship?
  • How accessible is the campus to people who are not students/faculty-staff/other employees?  Is there is a checkpoint for unauthorized campus visitors?
  • Does your college have the reputation of being a “partying school”?
  • How attentively does the campus administration respond to violation reports and disciplinary action?

According to the May 2, 2014 Washington Post article, “Colleges scrutinized on sex assault cases,” the U.S. Education Department released a list of 55 colleges with open “sexual violence investigations.”  The colleges under review have possibly mishandled Title IX violations relative to sexual violence and harassment complaints.  Reports from other higher education sources have included more colleges under review.

Institutions of all selective levels are represented:  Ivies, prestigious private schools, and public universities.  They hail from the states of Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Massachusetts, Maryland, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, West Virginia, and includes the District of Columbia.


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Wittenberg Ranks Fourth in Nation for “Most Accessible Professors”

I had the pleasure of visiting Wittenberg University several years ago while touring liberal arts colleges in Ohio.  Their 2014 Spring Newsletter provides campus updates, events, and student highlights; thus, making their institution worthy of consideration, especially for students who are not from the Midwest.  And, for you college-bound students concerned with student/professor ratio and the accessibility of professors, perhaps you should tag Wittenberg University to your search list.  The newsletter offers information on summer open houses and tours.

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At Wittenberg University, students and faculty work together to create a uniquely active, engaged learning environment. Academic excellence with personalized support and advising from accessible faculty and a campus community dedicated to helping students find their passion and purpose are qualities that set us apart.

Wittenberg Ranks Fourth for “Most Accessible Professors” The Princeton Review ranked Wittenberg University fourth in the nation for “Most Accessible Professors” in the 2014 edition of its annual college guide The Best 378 Colleges, tallying 99 out of a possible 100 points. CBS MoneyWatch recently featured a story about the rankings, pointing out that the majority of schools appearing on the list “are liberal arts colleges, which offer personalized instruction and small classes.” The rankings are based entirely on surveys completed by students, who also gave Wittenberg professors a score of 96 for being interesting.  

Prospective Students Invited to Explore Wittenberg this SummerTiger Days – June 27, July 25, and August 15

These special visit days include admission and financial aid sessions, a campus tour and a student panel.

President’s Leadership Academy – July 20-25 For rising high school juniors and seniors, this program will help students hone their leadership skills.

Ohio Four College Tour – August 7-8 Students can visit four of Ohio’s best liberal arts colleges in only two days.  Participating schools are Wittenberg, Denison University, The College of Wooster and Ohio Wesleyan University.

Wittenberg’s Office of Admission also is open for tours and interviews on most weekdays in the summer. More Information >>

Student Ambassador Helps Wittenberg Go Google Zach Cole, class of 2015 from Florissant, Mo., has teamed up with Google and student leaders from around the world to bring innovative apps to education. The business and East Asian studies double major and Chinese minor was selected to join the Google Student Ambassador (GSA) Program, which enables students who are highly active on campus to act as liaisons between Google and their respective colleges. At a training summit at the Googleplex in Mountain View, Calif., Cole tested new products such as Google Glass and explored the corporate headquarters via Google Bike. He hopes to help Wittenberg join the 15 million students, staff and faculty who have already “Gone Google” by utilizing the latest technology for education. Read More >>
Innovative Faculty-Student Collaboration Students in Assistant Professor of Geology and Environmental Science Sarah Fortner’s class collaborated with Columbus, Ohio’s Center for Science and Industry (COSI) to develop interactive demonstrations and models on earth resource sustainability. The goal was to translate college-level science to a general audience, making science more accessible. One team broke new ground at COSI by creating a permafrost thaw model. The fact that this type of modular development was performed by experts, including researchers and engineers, made this unique opportunity for Wittenberg students even more impressive. Modules were presented at COSI during Science Career Day on May 10.



A Semester at the Museum A unique partnership between Wittenberg and the Springfield Museum of Art, the only Smithsonian-affiliated art museum in the state of Ohio, provides highly collaborative courses, internships and fieldwork that cultivate students’ skills in a professional and academic environment few schools can offer. Art on Display, a museum studies and curatorial practicum, informs students about researching and curating exhibitions in a museum space as they work closely with a support team of arts-related professionals. The student-faculty research completed during the semester is published in an exhibition catalog, accompanying a show in the Wittenberg Halley Gallery.


Dedication to Service In March, 45 Wittenberg students chose an alternative spring break experience—now an annual tradition for some—to work with Habitat for Humanity in Tennessee, North Carolina and Alabama.  Working on a home in Decatur, Ala., one group was featured in a Decatur Daily News story .  “At Wittenberg, I have been…presented with so many opportunities that have met my desire to serve others while being a student,” said Evan Cameron, class of 2014.   “Wittenberg’s motto is ‘Having Light, We Pass It On To Others,’ so these students are trying to live that out this week, doing the best they can.”

Contact the Wittenberg University Admission Office at admission@wittenberg.edu

Triton Times: Updates from Eckerd College

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Triton Times: 
Welcome to Issue 16 of the Triton Times! In this issue, we feature our Theatre program, highlight three amazing young alumni and profile our Young Democrats Club.

Theatre at Eckerd College
To be or not to be… a theatre major at Eckerd College… that is the question!  Whether ‘tis nobler to major or minor in the program, well that is up to you.  Of course, student don’t have to major in our theatre program to be involved, yet another perk of a liberal arts education!  Our theatre major provides students with lifelong experiences that will help them carry communication, analytical, and artistic skills required in all elements of theatre into whatever field they find themselves in down the road.      Every year Eckerd produces a Fall and Spring production open to theatre and non-theatre majors.  Students are also required to complete an internship in the field with opportunity at local companies such as American Stage or the Studio@620 in downtown St. Pete, and even regional places such as the Hartford Stage, or Norwegian Cruise Lines!  On top of that, we offer overseas opportunities at our London Study Centre and students have had past performances at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival –one of the largest Arts festivals in the world- and the Avignon Festival in France.  To wrap up previous experiences, our seniors participate in a capstone project which showcases their skills as performers, directors and/or designers by taking Senior Theatre Company 1 and 2.  There really is no telling how far our theatre students will go after Eckerd, so the question still remains, to be or not to be a theatre major at Eckerd.

Alumni Highlight – Alumni go Hollywood!
Paul Posillico ’12
, Bay Shore, NY (Economics Major) Jimmy Rivera ’12, Skokie, IL (Environmental Studies Major) Alec Ogg ’12, Cordova, TN (Theatre Major)
Paul PosillicoJimmy Rivera and Alec Ogg are from three distinctly different hometowns and have academic interests related in only the liberal arts sense. So of course when they arrived at Eckerd College, as roommates from New York, Chicago and Memphis, they formed a fast friendship. Their Eckerd experience is likely shared by other alumni, yet so uniquely Eckerd, it’s unlikely to happen at many other colleges or universities.
The details of their exploits and engagement while on campus are exciting on their own, but it is the impact of those endeavors on their current careers that is so compelling. After four years as roommates, Paul, Jimmy and Alec decided to move to Hollywood, California after graduation in 2012. What these young men have been up to since commencement 2012 is quite impressive.

Economics and Oscars

Originally from New York, Paul Posillico earned his economics degree in hopes that it would propel him to success in the entertainment industry. His goal is to become an Agent and he is currently working at Mattel, which was recently featured in Varietymagazine for their new ventures in Hollywood. In addition to being the world’s largest toy manufacturer, Mattel has big plans to produce original films, TV shows, Web series, live events and games.
Paul also has an internship with the production company Echo Lake. He is responsible for reading pilot scripts for television shows, novels, and film scripts, and writing coverage on them for executives. Echo Lake’s most recent production is the Oscar nominated, Nebraska, starring Best Actor nominee Bruce Dern. Finally, like most Eckerd students filling their days with just one more club or activity to an already packed schedule, Paul is taking a UCLA extension class in Film Pre-production and Post-Production.


Whales, Sharks and Dolphins! Oh, Marine Science


Jimmy Rivera is from the Windy City, Chicago, and earned his degree in environmental studies. His love of the outdoors and the opportunity to take advantage of the ecological diversity the campus and the Tampa-St. Petersburg area offer were driving factors in his decision to attend Eckerd.
Out west he has worked as a deck hand on the Catalina Express that commutes between Long Beach and Catalina Island. Blue whale, bottlenose dolphin, fin whale and shark sightings while making the trip to and from Catalina Island have replaced the Florida manatees, sea turtles and horseshoe crabs he used to see near Eckerd. In addition to interesting sea life, what really has Jimmy excited is his new position at the Catalina Island Marine Institute. He will be working full time on Catalina Island as a Marine Science instructor. He’ll have the chance to go snorkeling, kayaking, and hiking with students and teaching them everything he learned at Eckerd about marine life.


Music, Memphis and Another Man’s Trash

The final member of the trio is the southern guy, Alec Ogg from Memphis. He majored in theatre, yet his approach was truly an interdisciplinary art educational experience. As a proud alumni member of Eckerd’s improv team, Another Man’s Trash, he is continuing his improv and theatre education at The Groundlings Theatre and School. The Groundlings is an improvisation and sketch comedy theatre that boasts alumni like Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Will Ferrell, Maya Rudolph, and Will Forte. Alec has also been in student films at the Los Angeles Film School, a Norwegian barbecue commercial, and has been an extra on MTV’s show Teen Wolf.   Acting and auditioning take up most of his time, yet Alec is still able to put his 4 years of Eckerd choir, 3 years of playing piano for the Wireman Chapel Sunday service and his minor in music to use by playing music around Southern California. The House of Blues on the Sunset Strip, Fiesta Hermosa in Hermosa Beach, Summerfest in Venice beach, The Hard Rock Cafe on Hollywood Boulevard and Molly Malone’s in West Hollywood are some of the well known venues where he has played his singer-songwriter original songs.   A recent report from ACT indicated that students with higher aspirations typically attended college farther from home. These three friends each traveled about 1,000 from home to attend Eckerd College and then traveled another 2,500 miles to get their careers started. It’s clear from their efforts so far that Paul, Jimmy and Alec have really lofty aspirations and their Eckerd educations are helping them get there.

Organization Highlight
Young Democrats  
         Club President: Daniela Baeza ’15, Potomac, MD
How did you first get involved? The former president of the club came to me when I did work for Alex Sink’s campaign.  He thought I was passionate and heard good things so he asked if I wanted to take it over, so I said sure!
What do you do in this club (describe a typical meeting/event): We meet to discuss current events and talk about political issues.  Sometimes we get speakers to come to Eckerd or help out with campaigns and/or give information about how to get involved in campaigns.  Eckerd College is in District 13 for Pinellas County, so we try to involve ourselves in Democratic events in our District as well.
What is your favorite thing about being a part of this club/activity? I really enjoy just getting together with other students who are passionate about politics and discussing issues with other like-minded students.  I also like that we get together and do “Speed-dating” style talks with Young Republicans to help better understand each other.  It isn’t an “us vs. them”, but a better way to speak openly and help understand each other to work together and collaborate our ideas.
Email:youngdemocrats-user@eckerd.edu, or dfbaeza@eckerd.edu

What’s New at Eckerd
Eckerd welcomes the Class of 2014 to the ranks of EC Alumni! Our 51st Annual Commencement Ceremony took place Sunday May 18 on South Beach Field. Our ceremony takes place right on the beautiful Boca Ciega Bay. Watch our giant tent (the largest of its kind in Florida) raised by the bay.

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To Our First Educator: Happy Mother’s Day!!

Let me preface this blog by stating it is not meant to be sexist.  As we celebrate Mother’s Day, May 11th, this is a “shout out” to all mothers who take a vested interest in the personal, intellectual, and social development of their young ones.  Fathers, you, too, are essential to your child’s development and deserve praise in your role as a caring and supportive parent; however, your effort will be revered next month.  This article addresses the contribution of a shining star, known to us as “mother.”

Medical theories have presented the pregnant mother’s positive impact on the fetus’ cognitive development; continuing to flourish after birth.  Experience has shown that maternal nurturing can positively affect the newborn and toddler milestones that build the foundation for success in school.  Mothers are often the “first real friend” or “confidant” of the budding preschooler, and she can be instrumental in shaping personal, social, and intellectual traits during sensitive and critical times.

Reflect back to your first day of kindergarten and the challenges of transition.  Most young children are easily comforted by the immediate intervention of a mother’s smile, hug, and encouragement as supportive welcomed relief.

Since my mother was my first grade teacher, that in itself was a transition, since she was a “stay-at-home-mom” until I started school.  Initially, I found her role somewhat confusing, until she and the principal felt it was in my best interest to be promoted to second grade.  You could say my luck was due to my mother being the only first grade teacher in the school.

For most mothers, it is difficult “letting go” when kindergarten begins; personal testimony included.  When my oldest started kindergarten, thirty-five years ago, I still vividly remember my anxiety when he pulled his little hand away from me the first day.  Not prepared to relinquish my “protection,” I would drive him to school, sit in the car, and watch him line up with the rest of his classmates as they entered the building, before I returned home.  The irony of the confession is that as a school counselor, I had to encourage middle school parents to subdue their anxiety about high school and allow their freshmen to experience the independence of their new academic community.

Mothers have expanded their role by working not only at home, but in pursuing careers in various settings.  With limited time for themselves, they still manage to assist with homework, carpool to games and events, work collaboratively with the school on PTA committees, and attend, even initiate, parent-teacher conferences.   

Many mother-child relationships are bonded by reading together, whether for leisure or school.  Vocabulary development begins in the early months of life.  When it’s time to encourage social outreach, mothers can be helpful by forming play groups.  Children benefit greatly from the early intervention of organization and time management skills, by MOM, so that as high school nears, this is not a critical deficiency.  And who better to enforce organization skills, the Queen of Executive Functioning, MOM.

If not, challenges will be on the horizon.  Mothers are usually responsible for monitoring the cleanliness of the bedroom and appropriateness of clothes selection, as well as offering wise advice and opinions, along with supportive arms for hugging and shoulders for crying.

Educating a child is a collaborative effort of the parents and school.  A successful outcome produces viable options for “life after high school.”  So on May 11th, give praise and thanks for all mothers who want the best education possible for her children.  Fathers, don’t worry, you will get your recognition next month.


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“Seniors: Use Your Head for Something Besides a Hat Rack”

“Use your head for something besides a hat rack,” the piercing, yet motivational words of my mother.  A no-nonsense elementary school teacher who demanded only the highest performance from her students, from the late 40’s till her retirement three decades later.  Her talent was recognized, deservedly so, by the North Carolina Department of Education.  Even though I never met my maternal grandparents, I understand both taught with the same professional standards, so apparently her gift was inherited.


And yes, occasionally she had to whisper those endearing words in my ears. During my school counseling career, I had to steal from my mother’s toolbox and use her script.  It was not gender or grade dominant, but my guys and upperclassmen were winning the contest. They attempted to blow it off as a joke, but respectfully appreciated the significance of my concern.  The freshmen were strongly encouraged to “straighten up” quickly, so they would not have a negative school profile. 

Seniors, you are almost at the end.  You have worked so hard the last four years to get to this moment, please don’t mess up with careless mistakes in the next few weeks.  If you are wondering if bad things can happen to seniors before graduation, yes they can.  Maybe it’s your assumption that you are invincible, and your excitement about graduation and all that follows has your common sense slightly distorted. If so, check yourself, because it’s not over, till it’s over; in other words, the diploma is in your hand.

The biggest culprit is the vulnerability to senior pranks.  I could write a book on seniors who made regrettable mistakes right before graduation and lost their privilege to participate in the ceremony with their classmates, and/or had their college admission decision rescinded.  Yes, a college can rescind a decision once the final transcript is received after graduation, due to unacceptable school progress and/or behavior violations. 


Just this week, sixty-two seniors were arrested in New Jersey for trashing their school, urinating in hallways, greasing doorknobs, and flipping desks.  In history, some seniors have organized mayhem events by throwing items, at a designated time, to cause disruption in the school day.  At a school in Long Island, NY in 2011, seniors broke into the school and stole the school’s mascot, a bear, and replaced it with a 3-foot-tall plastic skeleton, dressed in a mini tuxedo.  If you are thinking this was a harmless act, the incident was investigated as a burglary; not harmless to the police or the students’ colleges.


As the year is winding down, think about how much you have invested in your graduation and your future. Also think about your parents, and possibly all the other relatives who are in town to witness and celebrate your accomplishments. Refrain from allowing your peers to persuade you to join them in immature antics.  Most importantly, “Use your head for something besides a hat rack!”


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