Thursday evening, March 14th was very cold and windy. With intent and warm clothing, volunteers were at High Schools in Manhattan, Queens, the Bronx & Staten Island to meet parents and students on their way to parent teacher conferences.
Once again, with flyers in hand and a quick opening statement, they reached out to families to provide information about Non-Military Options for students after HS and Questions to Ask recruiters who may be talking to their child. Printed on bright pink and yellow papers, parents took the flyers with a thank you.
Feedback from volunteers noted positive responses from parents as well as teachers to the material. At one school parents seemed relieved the get the cautionary information about military enlistment. Teachers were more than willing to take the information and use the format for lesson plans. One team had the opportunity to speak with a group of students who were considering military enlistment. With a stroke of good luck, this was a team of 2 Veterans for Peace who could speak from experience and provide truth about war and military service.
Another team was invited inside the HS building to meet parents and keep warm. At several schools, volunteers spoke with JROTC members and discovered that none were considering ROTC in college.
My experience, alone at a large HS in lower Manhattan, proved to be different from my past visits to this school. Parents wondered who I was standing in front of the school with a handful of flyers. Since the flow of parents toward the school entrance was light and well paced, I had a little more time with each parent before he/she entered the building. After my quick message about non-military options for students – from skill training to college opportunities, financial aid, scholarships, and what to know if the military starts calling your home, they were off to their teacher meeting.
I noticed that most parents still had the flyers in their hands when leaving the school building. They stopped to thank me again for the information, some asked a question, many added ‘have a good evening’ with a smile. Very warm, very generous.
One father, among many, looked at me with such concern for his child and perhaps a call for help; I was moved and distressed by my inability to truly make a difference for him and his family. I remain troubled for all parents who are struggling to get ahead and see the future in their child’s educational success. Each child deserves a good education – filled with academics, emotional support, a variety of educational and social programs, art/music, tutoring, sports, and challenges to reach new goals.
We’ll be back at the schools this Fall – join us then.
– Barbara Harris
for the Granny Peace Brigade