Letter: Deborah Morbeto, Leesburg

Editor: In response to the article “Mental Health Providers Pitch Countywide Teen Suicide Prevention Programs,” I believe this new programming is fantastic and in my opinion long overdue.

One issue I have with the system as a whole is the hard-core push for students to achieve. Yes, we want our children to be successful but at what cost? I feel that “success” is defined differently for each individual.

My high school junior has been deeply affected by the pressure to compete academically. High School in Loudoun County seems to be all about AP classes, high GPAs and sports or other extracurricular activities—all for the ultimate goal of getting into a “good” college. While a healthy dose of competition can be invigorating, too much can send a sensitive teen down a very scary rabbit hole of self-doubt.

In our case, when our son chose not to work toward an advanced diploma, we were still hit with a strong push for him to take more AP classes. To what end? A stressed-out kid with a serious complex about his overall value?

Once upon a time, a C meant average and a B meant above average. Straight A’s and a high GPA are a great approach for some students but not all. I feel strongly that the system needs to be more sensitive to this issue and the diversity of our student population. There is no such thing as a ‘one size fits all’ education.

I would ultimately like to see the system been more able to address the needs of individual kids. I know this is no small task given funding, resources and a myriad of other issues. It would need to be a process but I do feel strongly that it’s one that needs to be examined.

This year my son is attending Monroe Technology part time. As the school year is still just beginning we have yet to see if this will be a good fit for him. I will say that while I love the atmosphere at Monroe there is still a very strong push to achieve and to be competitive. I sincerely hope that my creative, well spoken, intelligent and yes, highly imperfect (!) child can find a way to thrive in the Loudoun County public school system without having to always be the “best” and certainly not at the cost of his mental health and self-esteem.

Last but not least, I want to say that our son’s team at his homeschool have been terrifically supportive helping him find his path and for that we are grateful.

Deborah Morbeto, Leesburg

3 thoughts on “Letter: Deborah Morbeto, Leesburg

  • 2017-09-07 at 8:22 pm
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    Deborah, I agree with many of your points. We are fortunate in that we knew of excellent services and had an excellent psychiatrist for our student, who is disabled and also developed depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts. We had the support needed everywhere but at our LCPS high school, where simple requests from our psychiatrist – that are consistent with the National Association of School Counselors recommendations – were ignored. Practical suggestions for integrating students who have attempted suicide or are under the care of a psychiatrist back into the fast-paced high school environment do not exist in our county and this leaves a huge gap in supporting these students, who spend a lot of time in school. No one is asking schools to take the place of mental health experts, but we are asking them to follow physician orders for students while they are on school premises.

    As has been pointed out before, the athletic department has done a great job of providing practical suggestions for integrating athletes with concussion back into school. Homework assignments are often reduced until the student catches up, tutoring is available to catch the student up, etc. Pupil Services needs to acknowledge that kids who have missed school due to depression and suicide interventions deserve the same consideration while integrating back into school. I hope to see that guidance soon.

  • 2017-09-14 at 3:21 pm
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    We seemed to have almost NO teen suicides before all these liberals moved to Loudoun. Is there a connection?

  • 2017-09-22 at 2:11 am
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    Vindicator that is a flippant remark as politics play no part in teen age suicide. It is a shameful affront to those parents who lost a child. I have been an active advocate in this attempt to control the medicine cabinet in the home as one cause for the availability of overdose leading to these tragedies. Review your comments and apologize.

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