Author Archive

March 29, 2011 Leave a comment

Zoe Driver looks through an assortment of warm clothing stored in a metal cabinet in her classroom, Friday, March 18, 2011. Driver was preparing to take students cross country skiing the following day. Many of the students at Hidden Lake don’t have the appropriate or necessary outerwear to participate in the Outdoor Club’s events, like skiing, so Driver and other teachers often lend students the clothing they need. (Photo/Lauren Seaton)

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Hidden Lake Images

March 18, 2011 Leave a comment


Jazmin Rojas, 19, feeds her son, Demetrius, in the nursery at Hidden Lake, Friday, March 11, 2011, in Westminster, Colo. Rojas was in-between classes. (Photo/Lauren Seaton)








Emanuel Villezcas, left, plays music at Hidden Lake’s winter party on Dec. 10, 2010, as Daniel Mahoney looks on. The photo was taken by Hidden Lake senior, Laura Estrada, who is working on a photography project for her senior seminar class. (Photo/Laura Estrada)

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Adolescent Health

March 18, 2011 Leave a comment

Much of what I’ve read and heard over the years about teen pregnancy tends to incorporate social norms regarding the acceptability of adolescent pregnancy – or sometimes, the lack there of. 

Some literature focuses on poverty, education and societal impacts.

For example, “according to the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, using 2004 data, it is estimated that, in Colorado, the average annual cost to society per incidence of teen childbearing (age 17 and under) is over $4,000 (including child welfare system costs, costs associated with higher rates of incarceration of people born to teen parents, health care costs, and lost tax revenue.)” 

But putting aside all the issues of maturity, finances, education and poverty, what about the physical health of a teen mom and her baby?

This is an interesting article about the reproductive and sexual health of adolescents. It’s part of an adolescent reporting series by the Lancet Global Health Network

Keep in mind, it’s from 2007 which isn’t too long ago, but …

Some interesting statements/facts from the piece and reasons why my project is important:

“Today’s generation of adolescents is the largest in history.”

“Nearly half of the global population is less than 25 years old.”

“Negative outcomes of early pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including HIV/AIDS, threaten the health of people in the second decade of life more than any other age group.”

“Biologically, the immature reproductive and immune systems of adolescent girls translate to increased susceptibility to STIs and HIV transmission; pregnancy and delivery for those with incomplete body growth exposes them to problems that are less common in adult women.”

Adolescents = 10-19 yr olds, according to the U.N/WHO. 


This article is speaking on the world, not just the United States. However, much of the information about adolescent health can be applied globally. 

To begin, what I find interesting is the age range which the World Health Organization (WHO) defines as the period of adolescence. Presumably, the period is meant to identify a transition, but the differences that can exist – mentally, physically and emotionally – between a 10-year-old and a 19-year-old – are vast. 

But, what’s equally important – and a relevant argument for reducing adolescent pregnancy – is maintaining the health and safety of the mom and baby.

I am by no means a health expert, but there is a condition that is present among adolescents called cervical ectopy. In such a case, some of the interior cervical tissue extends to the outer cervical canal.  This tissue is more delicate and more susceptible to both damage and STIs. 

According to an article published in the Journal of the American Sexually Transmitted Diseases Association,

“The body and cervix of the uterus begin to increase in volume 2 to 3 years before menarche. Newly secreted ovarian hormones at puberty are believed to cause increased intracervical edema. Because of anatomical constraints, the enlarged endocervix can only expand downward and outward, which causes eversion, thereby exposing more endocervical columnar cells on the ectocervix. A zone of ectopy is thus created.”

Hormonal contraception and sexual activity can also affect the physiology of the cervix.


Some of the other reasons teen pregnancy is a continued and timely concern. This is from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention.

“Teen pregnancy accounts for more than $9 billion per year in costs to U.S. taxpayers for increased health care and foster care, increased incarceration rates among children of teen parents, and lost tax revenue because of lower educational attainment and income among teen mothers.

  • Pregnancy and birth are significant contributors to high school drop out rates among girls. Only about 50% of teen mothers receive a high school diploma by age 22, versus nearly 90% of women who had not given birth during adolescence.
  • The children of teenage mothers are more likely to have lower school achievement and drop out of high school, have more health problems, be incarcerated at some time during adolescence, give birth as a teenager, and face unemployment as a young adult.”
  • Additionally relevant, in Colorado, more than half of the births to teen moms (aged 15-19-years-old) are to Latina mothers.

    This post feels a bit scattered, because it is. The topic of teen pregnancy is expansive. But keeping the spotlight on the issue will hopefully help reduce the frequency of teen pregnancy, regardless of how scattered the process feels.

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    Some Things Haven’t Changed

    March 14, 2011 Leave a comment

    I’ve been reading Tom French’s South of Heaven, a story of Largo High School in Largo, Fla., during the 1989-90 school year. French spent a year at the school to report on what it was like to be “an American teenager at the end of the century,” “to be growing up when AIDS is spreading and the ozone layer is disappearing and institutions such as bank and savings and loans are teetering on the edge.”

    French described the project as “disturbing.”

    “It was hard not to be shaken by the realities that the students carried with them onto campus every morning,” he wrote. “Of the hundreds of kids I met, a surprising number were dealing with problems so gut-wrenching that it was hard to understand how they made it out of bed in the morning, much less came to school.”

    As I read his words – published in 1993 – I’m continually startled by how much of it could have been written today. 

    Has anything really changed since 1989? While the hole in the ozone may have repaired itself, environmental ‘alterations’ (e.g. global warming) still ‘threaten’ our future.

    French’s comment about banks is eerily parallel to today, although we might now use ‘toppled’ instead of ‘teetering.’

    And then there are high schools and their students. While I don’t think I’d describe what I see at Hidden Lake as ‘disturbing’ some of the stories I hear certainly are. 

    And I do sometimes wonder how the kids at Hidden Lake make it out of the bed in the morning. Maybe that’s how little I know about true resilience.

    But there is more in common between Largo and Hidden than the dramatic stories.

    Take the following from French’s book:

    There is Mike Broome, the continual problem kid, whose mother doesn’t know what to do with him. “‘Do you want to dig ditches all your life?’ she asks him. ‘Do you want to be a bum and live on skid row?'” 

    At Hidden Lake, there is Zoe Driver who tells her students they are heading for more than that. 

    “You’re incredibly hard workers … You’re not going to work at Taco Bell,” she said once. 


    French writes,  “Back out in the hall, it’s another morning stuck on fast forward. A crush of bodies, fighting to make it to the next class. Slamming lockers, passing flirtations. Whoops and insults and high-pitched cries.”

    I’m always amazed at the complete disregard teenagers who make-out in public have. ‘Passing flirtations’ seems like a mild way of stating it. I think more along the lines of magnets and suction cups – things that are drawn together easily but need extra strength to be broken apart. 

    I went to a boarding school in high school so I didn’t need the school hallways for such activities – there were dorm rooms for that. 

    But at Hidden Lake, there has been more than one occasion where I’ve nearly run over a kissing or fondling couple in the halls who sometimes pause what they’re doing to say hello.

     ‘Oh, that was nice of them,’ I think.

    I guess regardless of the year or the high school, teenagers will be teenagers.


    I know that when I was in high school my parents – especially my mother – used to make comparison comments. “Oh, high school is so different now than when I went,” she would say.

    Everything was always, in her words,  ‘so different’ –  what she meant by that was ‘harder.’

    She saw my high school era through filtered lenses – she saw more work, more peer pressure, more time commitments, more to lose.

    But does high school really change that much over time?

    There seem to be the same groups of kids, the same teenage angst, the same important school dances and the same successes – ultimately graduation.

    I suppose the circumstances, the settings and the gradients for comparison change but maybe the students are actually a costant variable in the culture of education.

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    Last Day of the Hexter at Hidden Lake

    Today was the last day of the hexter at Hidden Lake. The seniors had to turn in their final project research papers by the end of the day today, or they don’t move on to next hexter. And they won’t graduate this May. 

    Below, Emanuel Villezcas shows his paper to senior seminar teacher, Zoe Driver, while Ricky Gervais of the British (and original) version of the T.V. show, “The Office,” looks on. (Photo/Lauren Seaton)

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    Snowshoe Adventure

    On Saturday, Feb. 26, 2011, I went snow shoeing with Zoe Driver, a couple of other teachers at Hidden Lake and five students on Squaw Pass near Mt. Evans. Some of the students had never been before. At one point I handed off my camera to a student and then one of the teachers. The teacher, Zoe Driver, snapped these photos of me navigating – at times – waist deep snow to chase a runaway dog.

    Making progress …








    … then, not so much.

    Categories: Ideas and Ramblings

    So Many Details

    On Friday, I spent most of the day with a student named Nigel. I kept waiting to get the right photo of him with his friends. Every time they saw me and the camera, though, they’d start laughing. Then there was one handshake/man hug where everyone – including myself – was in the right position and acting naturally. I pushed the shutter down – click! – GOT IT. Wrong. Next time I’ll focus.






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