Mental health focus
Lucas Johnson isn’t old enough to vote yet, but the 17-year-old Monticello High senior and his peers from two other county high schools—Choetsow Tenzin at Albemarle and Alex Moreno at Western Albemarle—didn’t let that stop them from demanding the General Assembly support more school instruction on mental health.
“I had a best friend who admitted to me she wanted to drive her car through a guardrail,” says Johnson. “That really shook me. Alex had to go to two funerals for people who’d committed suicide. And Choetsow had numerous friends who struggled with mental health.”
The teens want more time devoted to mental health in ninth and 10th grade health classes, and they have proposed changes to the Code of Virginia to say mental health must be included. “We came out of our health classes knowing nothing about mental health,” says Johnson. “We were concerned we didn’t know how to help.”
The three met at the Sorensen Institute High School Leaders Program last summer, and did preliminary work on the bill there. They met with state Senator Creigh Deeds, who has been a leading advocate for strengthening mental health services in Virginia after his son, Gus, committed suicide in 2013.
And they have powerful allies in the House of Delegates, where Rob Bell is patron of the bill and Delegate Steve Landes, chair of the House Education Committee, is copatron.
“We went to Richmond on January 27 to lobby,” says Johnson, and they have been two other times since the General Assembly has been in session, scheduling a “slew of meetings” to get copatrons and testifying.
Their efforts appear to have paid off. The Deeds-backed Senate bill passed 39-1 February 13, and the House bill got a unanimous nod that same day.
Johnson has been interested in politics and policy for years and says this “has only furthered” his interest, especially as it could bring actual change.
“We came out of our health classes knowing nothing about mental health.” Monticello High school student Lucas Johnson
The first flu-related death in the Charlottesville area was reported February 16 at the University of Virginia Health System, where clinicians have categorized this flu season as “moderately heavy,” and have seen 450 confirmed cases since October.
After the summer’s white supremacist torch rally that ended in a brawl on Grounds, UVA School of Law Dean Risa Goluboff is leading the charge to re-examine how the school regulates events. Her recommendations to the faculty senate require people who aren’t students, faculty or staff to reserve their space ahead of time, with reservations capped at 25 people for up to two hours on weekdays.
Stops and frisks
Charlottesville Police detentions of those who are not arrested continue to be predominantly African-American (around 70 percent), and have increased, according to documents civil rights attorney Jeff Fogel obtained under the Freedom of Information Act. He says last year’s 151 detentions far exceed previous years, and that former chief Al Thomas ordered tracking of the stops halted.
Scottsville Town Council voted on a trap-neuter-return program as a humane way to deal with the town’s feral cat colonies on February 20 after C-VILLE Weekly went to press. Scottsville Weekly reported in 2013 that the town’s Cat Man—Bud Woodward—had trapped more than 100 cats and taken them to be spayed. Apparently the problem persists.
Run, Kate, run
Kate Fletcher, a 43-year-old English teacher at Louisa County High School, will attempt to run for 24 continuous hours starting at the high school’s track at 8:30am on March 29, in an effort to raise money for the LCHS newspaper class and college-bound seniors.
Quote of the Week: “8th grade to now…still get the butterflies. I love you #2/18/18 @AlexaJenkins_” —UVA sophomore guard Kyle Guy proposes to his longtime girlfriend during the No. 1 basketball team’s eight-day break
Tracking top songs
Based on the results of C-VILLE’s online poll, rock hits and rap wits share common ground when it comes to the unique blend of area high schooler’s musical taste, showing the world that the next generation of humans might not be so doomed after all. And even if they are, they’ll have some awesome playlists to accompany the apocalypse.
Drake took the No. 1 spot with his song “God’s Plan,” followed closely by Cardi B’s “Bodak Yellow.” And a surprising tie for third was a mix of old and new, with Billy Joel and Frank Ocean fans making their voices heard. Rounding out the results was an eclectic mix of genres ranging from Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven” and Queen’s “Killer Queen,” to Lil Skies’ “Nowadays” and Ed Sheeran’s “Perfect.”