Mission Statement:

Strong Communities are Built on Strong Families.
Strong Families are Built on True Principles.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

SnapChat app = Parents Be Aware!

The SnapChat app is a photo-messaging app widely being used by our youth that can too easily lead to bullying, cheating, sexting, and pornography.  "Concerned Parent in Morgan (Utah)" emailed this letter to the M.C.N. yesterday expressing HUGE concerns.  It's a great letter with some great points to parents.  Read on!  (Bold and italics added in the letter with permission - Lydia Nuttall, M.C.N.)

"Photo-sharing apps have become the most popular way of communicating between teenagers.  This photo-messaging app allows teens to send pictures with a 1-10 second time limit before the picture self-destructs and disappears never to be seen again.  The concept of SnapChat is to send quick pictures of yourself, others, or funny things to a friend, or a really cool place you are at the moment like on a vacation to Hawaii, whatever.  After the picture is viewed, the temporary moment of immaturity or complete randomness is gone forever.  So, users can send time limited photos that might be embarrassing or just silly, or even sexy pics without a significant fear that it will find its way into the hands of mom and dad.  Yup.  Think about it like this: No trace of pictures for mom and dad or anyone to see.  The person gets the photo, a little 1-10-second look, and then it's like it never happened.
Another negative of having this app is bullying  Since the app allows pics to be shared within groups, teens can share derogatory pics with each other throughout the day.  You could just be walking down the hall and quickly snap a pic of someone without them knowing, then with SnapChat’s new drawing features, draw derogatory comments next to the picture to send to a user.  SnapChat could intensify cyber bullying because more teens would be willing to engage because the picture will self destruct.  Someone can send a picture with some mean words to your child for just 3 seconds, just long enough, to belittle them and make them feel worthless, and there would be no proof of this action. What about cheating?  There are a growing number of teens using Snapchat for cheating on tests.  Students quickly take pictures of their test answers and SnapChat it to other students in the class.  Some youth are asking for their friends to take a snap of their finished homework answers and to send it back to them. 
I am not saying that everyone is using it in a bad way.  Sure, it’s all about the faces. Teens love to make faces – silly faces, happy faces, ugly faces – and SnapChat them to each other. It is a way to increase their self-expression.  But what about the time they are spending doing it back and forth?  Are our teens misusing their time through disguised distractions?  We have been counseled that computers should be placed in an open, common area and not in our children’s bedrooms.  How many kids nowadays have internet on their phone and are staying up way late into the night checking Facebook or SnapChatting their friends just lying in bed with free reign?  Do you really know?  What about homework, family time, and just plain getting to bed on time for good health and a clear mind?
The Bottom Line:  SnapChat probably can be a fun and engaging app when used appropriately.  But it should be used carefully and with very specific ground rules or not used at all.  Apps like SnapChat remind parents that we need to be vigilant about our children's phone use and to monitor their activity to prevent problems like sexting or bullying or other elements of the "dark side" of phone use by our children.  Another parent told me that some teens are sending “DP’s” (dirty pics) ie:  nude snaps of themselves and using the SnapChat drawing device to color over or “cover” the obvious body parts exposed.  When I found out about the “DP’s”...Yes, at our good ole’ Morgan High School…that kids are talking about and sending to each other, I felt this need to make my voice heard and also to discuss this with my own children.  I found out that you can check their usage by clicking on their user name and see how many pics are being sent and who their top 3 people are.  You might be amazed.  Parents need to set up ground rules regarding the usage of the app.  No inappropriate pictures or language describing pictures or cyber bullying.
From my standpoint, it is sometimes helpful to see this not as just a social issue, but as a drug, because the addictive mechanism is clearly part of the danger when teenagers habitually are using the social network.
We should expect more from our children.  We should expect them to make good decisions for themselves, regardless of how easy technology makes it for them to do otherwise.   My hope is that you will take this knowledge and use it to leverage your vigilance at home.   Keep an eye out for this app on your child’s iPhone, iPod or iPad. If you see that they’ve downloaded it, chances are it’s time to sit down and have a serious conversation about the consequences of what might happen and importance of time management and priorities....you know “What Matters Most”. 
We should monitor what our children are watching and doing, but perhaps even more importantly, strive to keep the lines of communication open so that our children will talk to us when they are exposed to inappropriate material. This sometimes requires a delicate balance between giving our children enough information to be aware of potential problems and not giving them so much information that they are curious or unduly alarmed.
Mom and Dad, it’s time to check out your kiddos phone and get rid of the SnapChat app or at least have the courage to monitor the usage and what is being sent!!

Thank you so much for your time. If I at least helped one person today, then I have made a difference!!!  I love my kids and I know you love yours as well.

“What the world really needs is courageous parenting from mothers and fathers who are not afraid to speak up and take a stand.”  Larry R. Lawrence

From: A Concerned Parent in Morgan, Utah

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

State & Local Budget Cuts : Will They Affect You?

Our small Morgan County (Utah) School District lost almost a million dollars in funding this school year... How are we doing?  We may loose more funding next year.. What will this do to our kids and our teachers??

Two Updates on last night's Morgan Board of Education meeting:

1)  FIRST Update -
Last month the Board voted to not administer the SHARP (Student Health and Risk Prevention) Survey due to
low participation in past years as well as parent opposition.

Last night a representative from Weber/Morgan Health Dept. announced to the Board that without the data provided by the SHARP Survey, they would no longer be able to provide Morgan School District any further prevention services such as the All Stars program (a prevention program for 5th graders) or Prevention Dimensions (prevention training for teachers).

Superintendent Ken Adams asked,  "Is the health department aware that Morgan Empowered can provide alternate data via our sheriff dept., county attorney, schools, and religious organizations?"

President of the Board, Joey Skinner asked, "Who do we need to talk to at the Health Dept?  It seems like there is emotion behind this decision because we didn't approve the Sharp Survey..."

As the Weber/Morgan Health Department decides whether or not to accept prevention data from Morgan Empowered in order to provide their prevention services, great questions for us to ask ourselves as members of this community are:

  • "What programs do we already implement for prevention that are not affiliated with the health department?"
  • "Are there other prevention programs offered by other organizations?"
  • "Do we have local resources that can provide prevention services?"
Later on the agenda, the Board approved the new D.A.R.E. ("Define, Assess, Respond, Evaluate") program for our school district.

2)  SECOND Update -
Also discussed at the meeting was the financial status of our school district by the Board, Superintendent Adams, and visiting leaders from our state: Rep. Mel Brown, Sen. Allen Christensen, Sen. Stuart Reid, and Tami Pyfer from the State Board of Education.

The grim summary  Federal and State funding cuts, our local revenue losses and uncollected taxes, and 347 more students and correlating expenses have resulted in a loss of almost a million dollars to our school district.  District cuts of approximately $446,000 this past June and a recent $100,000 local tax increase will help alleviate the lack of funds somewhat and keep us afloat this school year - barely.  Without increased funding next year, we can expect loss of 3 - 5 teachers, increased class sizes, loss of extra-curricular programs and elective courses, etc. (to name just a few...)

Senator Reid's response: "The party is over.  However we skin this cat, there will be less money because of the Federal Govt.  It will get worse for at least 10 years because of growth and no money."  His suggestion?  "There needs to be greater discussion at the (Morgan) community level of developing businesses along the I-84 corridor..."

Senator Allen Christensen:  "I just came from a meeting this morning regarding implementation of ObamaCare.  It will cost Utah 100's of millions of dollars.  We have no idea how to pay for this.  If we increase taxes, it makes the economy go down..."

Rep. Mel Brown:  "Maybe we need to say, 'We don't want your program and we don't want your money!' "

Tami Pyfer:  "Our legislative expectations as a State Board are to fully fund growth AND increase the W.P.U." ("weighted pupil unit" = $ allocated per student enrolled).  "Resources are diminishing and yet there are more increased expectations (of our education system)... A critical component of student success is good quality instruction.  We need to not be distracted at legislative meetings (with funding other things) and keep that as our focus."

So, Morgan County Community, with all this in mind, ponder what YOU would do if YOU had the power to choose funding priorities for Morgan School District... because your voice in these matters DOES make a difference!

The Morgan Community Network
-- Lydia Nuttall --

Friday, June 15, 2012

Why vote in the Primary Election June 2014?

We need to be an example to the rising generation.  If "grown-ups" don't vote, what are the chances our children will vote?  Having and using the freedom to vote is what distinguishes us as true Americans.

In 1972, Utah's youth had the HIGHEST youth voter participation out of our 50 states.
In 2008, Utah's youth had the 3rd LOWEST youth voter participation (37%)*

In the 1960's, Utah had 80% overall voter participation!
In 2010, Utah was the 2nd LOWEST in the nation in overall voter participation!

Only 52% of registered voters participated in the 2010 Primary election.  In 2008, the United States had a 51.1% overall voter turnout*.

*  Only Arkansas 35% and Hawaii 31% were lower than Utah.  The highest states for youth voter participation in 2008 were Minnesota 68%, Iowa 63% and New Hampshire 62%.  (See www.civicyouth.org/wp.../2009-state-by-state-fact-sheet_FINAL.pdf)

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Finding Balance Between "Vacation" and "Education" During Summer Break

Looking for a way to keep your kids from losing the last 9 months of education over their summer vacation?  Want to ACT prep help for your new junior over the summer, or increase your new senior's previous ACT score?  Keep reading!

FIRST:  For parents who have high schoolers who want to score 5 -10 points higher on their future ACT/SAT test, or have middle schoolers who want to increase their reading comprehension skills and math skills, here's what I learned at the State Board of Education meeting last November:

The "March2Success" program is sponsored by the US Army and is available to the public on-line for FREE.  Parents, teachers, mentors and KIDS as young as 8th graders can log-in to the March2Success program whenever they have free time on their home computer.  March2Success is designed to first assess a student's math, science and English skills and discover the student's weaknesses.  Next it will kick out lesson plans for your student based on their weaknesses.  Reading comprehension is a big focus.  March2Success has a 70% success rate getting kids out of remediation and back into regular English classes.

March2Success also has on-line ACT/SAT practice tests / flash cards available for your student; the questions come right off the ACT/SAT tests themselves.  There is also a computer game in the March2Success program called "Zero Hour Threat" that tests your students' knowledge in a fun and engaging way.  The best part is that if the student does not get the question right, the game immediately gives him/her feedback as to why he/she got the question wrong.  83.6% of the students using March2Success increased their math general purpose test scores using this program.

Here's how to access this awesome tool:  http://www.march2success.com/.  A registration site will pop up to get your student registered for the program.

SECOND:  For parents who have elementary school kids, below is a list of educational on-line sites that you can log into for your child to review skills and to learn new ones in preparation for the 2012-2013 school year.  

www.brainpop.com (This one costs $ but is very educational - you can try a "trial" period)

That's it!  Enjoy your summer with your kids!

Friday, May 11, 2012

New "Forgotten American Family Night Story" Available

A new Forgotten American Family Night Stories re:  "What if America did not have freedom of religion?" is available for you and your family on Morgan City's website www.morgancityut.com .  Check out the picture of the Mayflower covered in ice when it arrived in America, and read about William Bradford and the persecution he and the "Separatists" suffered in England because they did not have freedom of religion.

Also, did you miss the Brad Barton family event at MHS on May 1st?  You may have missed his magic, but included below is his important message he gave to families in attendance regarding how we can help our kids stay free from alcohol and other drugs.  Just read below...
Brad Barton to Morgan Families

(The following was written by members of Morgan Empowered and submitted to The Morgan County News for the Friday, May 11th paper.)

"Alcohol is a drug; it's the second most dangerous drug next to nicotine!" emphasized Brad Barton to an audience of approximately 400 in the Morgan High School auditorium on Tuesday, May 1st while levitating spinning cards in the air, shooting mini fire balls, and magically making a newspaper "whole" after shredding it in pieces.

Brad Barton has worked in the past with Weber Human Services educating youth about the dangers associated with substance abuse.  Now he is a Certified Speaking Professional with the National Speaker’s Association and speaks to youth all over Utah and the nation empowering them to be their best, to treat others and their differences with respect, and to stay clear of alcohol and other drugs.

There are several key elements Mr. Barton wanted every parent to understand when talking about underage drinking.

First, the best deterrent for alcohol use/abuse is for parents and adults to monitor teen activities. Sometimes parents think it is ok to allow and provide alcohol in their home under their supervision.
·         The illusion is: Parents think this will create responsible drinking.
·         The reality is: Parents drinking with a teen inherently teaches disregard for the law and gives youth permission to drink in other settings.  This leads to disrespect for parental authority and rules established within the home as well as school settings.  In addition, family relationships are actually harmed when teens are allowed to consume alcohol with adult permission.  Parents are not viewed as important supports when they provide their teens with alcohol. (Tapert, Tate, and Brown, 1999) (NAS report).

Don’t underestimate the real “magic” parents have!   Strong parental disapproval and consequences is the top deterrent for youth from becoming involved in alcohol.  “If we keep kids away from the gateway drugs of tobacco, alcohol, and marijuana, we will keep kids away from the other drugs,” emphasized Brad.  Know where your teens are, who they are with, and what they are doing is something every parent can do.

Second, a teenager’s brain is still developing.
·         The illusion is: Teens think alcohol is different from drugs.
·         The reality is:  Alcohol is a type of drug causing similar addictions and physical harm.  From the ages of 10-25 the brain goes through dramatic change and refinement.  (Huttenlocker, 1979; Silveri and Spear, 2002).  Researcher Aaron White at Duke Univeristy states, “Alcohol use in teens severely disrupts brain cells’ ability to establish long-lasting, heightened responsiveness to signals from other cells.”  (Bliss and Collinridge 1993).

Following Brad’s presentation, families participated in “What Will I Do On My Summer Break?”  The youth in particular had a blast visiting various booths and hands-on displays in the MHS commons area sponsored by local businesses and organizations which provide summer-time activities, camps, classes, and events for kids and families in our Morgan County community.  Parents were able to visit each booth and sign up their kids for summer-time fun.

It is the mission of Morgan Empowered to coordinate family and community resources to empower our youth to become responsible and upright adults.   We are grateful for outstanding community support and hope you will keep an eye out for additional activities sponsored by Morgan Empowered.  A special thanks to Brad Barton for helping Morgan Empowered make Morgan a place where parents and youth can influence one another in a positive way.

The Morgan Community Network
--Lydia Nuttall --

Monday, April 30, 2012

Brad Barton Coming to Town (Free Family Fun!) & Updates!

4 Community Updates!
1) Brad Barton, a family-friendly magician, is coming to Morgan, May 1st, MHS, 6:30pm (it's FREE!) to teach youth the importance of staying drug/alcohol free using magic, and..."What Will Your Kids Do On Their Summer Break?"  will take place immediately afterwards.  Find out what activities, day camps, classes, etc. Morgan County businesses/organizations have available for your kids to do this summer after Brad's Barton's presentation!
2) "Let Freedom Ring!"  Start planning now for the biggest and best Independence Day celebration ever!  YOU can be part of the celebration! Visit www.morgan4th.com to:
  • Sign up as a vendor, earn $ for your club or business
  • Enter a float in the parade
  • Sign up for the 5K run or bike race
  • Join "Spike Night" 4 on 4 volleyball tournament
  • Sign up for the "Skate Jam" skateboard exhibition & competition
  • Volunteer to help with the FUN!
3)  Splash pad in Morgan:  Want to have your kids play at a local splash pad at Riverside Park this summer? Morgan City is just $20K shy of having the funds in full to pay for a splash pad !  Any monetary donation would help from parents and especially from KIDS!  Last year a six year old girl sold extra eggs to some neighbors from her chickens and contributed half the money to the city for the splash pad.  What can your kids think of to earn and contribute $$ towards a splash pad?!
Donations can be dropped off at the Morgan City office Monday through Thursday from 7am - 6pm.  They can also be mailed to the Morgan City Office at 90 West Young Street.  Any amount is appreciated - pennies, nickels, dimes, quarters included!
4)  "Ellis Island: Why Did YOUR Ancestors Come to America?"   Do you have kids at MMS or approaching 6th grade?  See and read about Principal Madeo's Italian ancestors immigrating to America from Italy, a 21 year old girl immigrating by herself from Finland to America not knowing a lick of English, and a young couple from Sweden who immigrated to America in hopes of finding employment as tailors!  April's "Forgotten American Family Night Story" is now available on www.morgancityut.com !
The Morgan Community Network
-- Lydia Nuttall --

Monday, April 16, 2012

Why Attend Your Caucus Meeting?

Why attend your caucus meeting?  (I know our Utah caucus meetings were last month, but this is good info for March 2014!)
The process of how Utah candidates get their names on the November ballot starts at your precinct caucus meeting.  Here's how it works:
  1. Attend your caucus meeting.
  2. Listen to people in your precinct nominate other participants (or themselves) to stand for election as a delegate for the upcoming State Democratic Convention or State Republican Convention in April.
  3. Listen to those who have been nominated share a brief message as to why they would like to represent you and be a "delegate".
  4. Vote for the person who will best represent you and your interests as a "delegate".
  5. Votes are counted at the caucus meeting.  The person with the most votes becomes your precinct's "delegate".  (Sometimes there are more than one "delegate" positions to fill in a precinct.)
  6. Your precinct's elected delegate attends the state convention on April 21st, 2012.  At the state conventions, the elected delegate(s) representing you/your precinct and other elected delegates from precincts all over Utah listen to candidates running for Governor, Senator, House of Representatives member, Attorney General, etc.  They vote for which candidate they want to have on the ballot for the November election.  The candidate that has the most votes from the delegates gets to be on the November ballot!
Does your vote matter in a caucus meetingDid you know that only 5% of registered voters here in Utah attend their precinct caucus meetings? That's a tremendous amount of power such a small percentage of people have over your future and the future of the State of Utah!  Make sure you take advantage of your opportunity to attend and participate in your caucus meeting this month by voting for a delegate who will best represent YOU and get the candidate YOU want on the ballot for November's election!

"The ultimate rulers of our democracy are not a President and senators and congressmen and government officials, but the voters of this country."
- Franklin D. Roosevelt -

"One person can make a difference and every person should try."  - John F. Kennedy -

My "personal favorite" motivational quote:
"Elections belong to the people.  It is their decision.
If they decide to turn their back on the fire and burn their behinds,
then they will just have to sit on their blisters."
- Abraham Lincoln - 

That's It!
The Morgan Community Network
- Lydia Nuttall -