Bright Future: NHS students learn life lessonsPublished 12:03am Thursday, November 1, 2012
NATCHEZ — Briana Chester is only in high school, but she knows what it’s like to a be divorced, single mother barely scraping by on a service industry job.
But that’s not because she’s taken a wrong turn early in life. It’s because she and several of her classmates ran a simulation on trying to budget using real-life scenarios and numbers as part of their Family Dynamics class at Natchez High School. The class teacher, Juanita Searcy, provided the scenario.
“We had to coordinate our activities within our budgets, to find out what activities we could do,” Chester said. “We didn’t have much money for extracurricular activities like movies.”
Searcy said the goal of the class is to get students to think about things like budgeting, family discipline, moral development and the roles of parents and children before they enter into those situations.
“We talk about things like love, sexuality, communication and problem solving, because those are all things that are important in a family setting,” Searcy said.
Wednesday, students had a discussion — sometimes heated — about the role that discipline plays into family dynamics and what forms it should take. Chester took a firm but moderated stance on corporal punishment.
“You should never spank a child when you’re angry, because that’s not a spanking, that’s a beating,” she said.
Class member Melissa Anderson said she wanted to give the members of her family independence but to avoid the chaos that can sometimes come from too much independence.
“I would tell my kids you can get a job but you can still come to me for help,” she said.
Wardell Gaines Jr. said he believed families should maintain discipline but not be too hard on children, not only for the next generation, but for the one after that.
“If you are too hard on (your children) they are not going to want to discipline their own kids,” he said.
The class also discussed how society and the role of families have changed — most agreed it has been for the worse — and what they can do to address it.
“I think elders should set better examples,” Gaines said. “If they are cursing and drinking around you, they are setting that example for you.”
As part of the class, members of the community — including Nancy Hungerford with the Natchez Children’s Home and Pat Bonds with Britton and Koontz Bank — have addressed the class.
Burns spoke about saving for a home, what homes usually cost and how the students should look for their future homes, and Hungerford spoke about NCH’s work with children and establishing family roles in families in distress, Searcy said.
The members of the class will also volunteer at the NCH’s after-school program, Searcy said.