Education Coffeehouse Newsletter, November 2003

A Warning for Parents:
Jelly Bracelets

The meaning behind the popularity of the colorful Jelly bracelets among middle schoolers revealed.

Check your son or daughter's wrist...or the wrists of the students sitting in your classrooms. Have you noticed a harmless, colorful rubber bracelet? Well, according to an article entitled, "Parents: Brace Yourselves" that could be a calling card for sexual favors.

They use the Jelly bracelets in a game called "Snap" where someone yanks a certain colored bracelet from the wrist of a classmate indicating the type of sexual favor they would like to have. Urban is an online resource that reveals the truths behind slang used by today's teenagers. (Caution - the language used at this site is extremely explicit). It reports the Jelly bracelet as "Bracelets worn on the wrists, usually by middle school students that are related to sex. " According to Urban dictionary - the sexual acts also include "gangbanging" or group intercourse.

The acts range from hugging to full intercourse based on the following color code:

Yellow: hugging
Purple: kissing
Red: lap dance
Blue: oral sex
Black: the full monty

At Malabar Middle School in Mansfield, OH, these bracelets have been banned by Principal Joann Hipsher. Of course, the students say the bracelets are worn in just good fun, but, as Urban Dictionary warns, the students will not admit to the true meaning behind the bracelets. The members of the teenage community that wear them protect their meaning. Hipsher defended her actions by stating that her ban is meant to promote good charcter. School districts in Florida have also banned the rubber jewlery.

As I searched the web for more information on this story, however, I found fewer writings of the bracelets and their meanings than of dissenting opinions and complaints concerning the ban of the bracelets in schools. It always amazes me. Here it is - in the face of so many - revealed by one of the most trustworthy sources in journalism - Time Magazine - and some parents believe the schools are trying to step on their children's right to self expression. Well, Mom and Dad, I'm with Time and the courageous principals on this one. And if you don't get on board, believe me - your daughter may really be taking her right to express herself in ways you never considered. And I'm sure no one wants to step on that Constitutional right, now do we?

If you are familiar with any other codes, games, or secret fads, please let the Coffeehouse know so we can inform parents through our newest page...Staying Ahead of the Game


You Better Watch Out...

Are you prepared for the annual to handle the idea of Christmas in the classroom?

It's okay to display Jewish symbols, pictures of Ramadan activities, or, in the spirit of the Jehovah's Witness denomination, not mention the holiday at all. Instead of focusing on the utter ridiculous ramifications behind the idea that only Christian educators are skulking around the hallways of public schools in pursuit of brow beating their students into conversion, let's take a break from even focusing on the "why" Christmas symbols can't be displayed in the classroom.

About 6 years ago, I developed a tradition. I began inviting my students to my home for a good old soul food Christmas dinner with turkey, dressing and all the fixings including many African American favorites like Sweet Potato Pie and Collard Greens! It has truly become an occasion my students look forward to and continue to talk about well after it's over. The students must receive permission from their parents to attend, and they all clearly understand that this dinner is my "Christmas" gift to them in a way I best know how - through the giving of my time in preparing a meal I hope they will enjoy. Before we eat, we gather hands and I offer a prayer of thanks for the blessing of my wonderful the name of Jesus Christ. We then play video games - this is one of the best parts of the holiday season for my own 2 boys who love to test their video game talents on the older kids. Everyone goes home full of stockings filled with candy and/or a door prize - won simply on the eligibility of the virtue of their attendance.

Over the course of the years, I have found that this particular event has made quite a lasting impression on many of my students for reasons many readers wouldn't expect. You see, I teach in a small town in northern Indiana in a school that serves 29 districts - most of which are rural farming communities. Many of the students from these areas have come to my classroom and confessed that I am one of the few, many times, the only, African American teacher (or person) they have ever had a chance to know. In inviting them over to my home and sharing my family with them, I found a way to defy the church vs. state mandates by celebrating the true meaning of Christmas - the idea that love has no boundaries. I don't mean to blow my own horn as far as what I am trying to do. Quite the contrary. But I do believe that Christians can share the meaning of Christmas with their students - if they simply refuse to give the energy and time to complaining about the restrictions and just do what Jesus most wants for his children to do - live a life that embodies love for all people. There's no church vs. state rule that can even begin to place restrictions on that Christian principle.

I'd like to hear from you on how you share the true meaning of Christmas with your students - unconditional love and giving. Just forward a note to me here at the Coffeehouse. I'll display the ideas for others to see.