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Dec 8 downtown Rotary meeting
12/8/2003

THIS IS YOUR LIFE:
James Robbennolt moved from Pierre to Sioux Falls last nov. He was born in Agar SD just North of Pierre.
He graduated from USD in 1969 and his degree is in political science. He went into the military flying helicopters, and he spent one year in Vietnam. Later,he went into law school and graduated in 1976.

KEY SPEAKER:
Jim Denevan, Principal of Roosevelt Senior High
Chairman of the Community Committee reviewing racism in Sioux Falls area.
Jim discussed the events surrounding the recent racial problems in the local high schools in Sioux Falls. 30 or so students from Roosevelt and elsewhere were fighting with minorities from high schools around Sioux Falls. Most of the minorities were from Lincoln.
Behind the problem is that the racial diversity in Sioux Falls has gone from around 2% to about 8% these days. To address part of the problem we need to focus on teaching diversity tolerance in the 30 educational institutions in SF where only one officer is currently assigned to talk to students. To improve the situation, the police department is going to increase the number of officers talking to the children in these schools. The children need to be reached at a younger age and we need to focus at the family level before the kids get to high school.
Soon after the problem came to light, Jim brought together all the students involved for a dinner. The 30 kids from Roseveldt were brought together with the kids from other schools and the conflicts were openly discussed. The problem actually started 2 years ago. The communication regarding the fights were disseminated over the internet and occurred between 4 and 6pm on most days. The problem was small and grew to its current levels without being noticed significantly.
One of the programs to help kids fit in is working on keeping the kids in after school activities. A problem specific to Roosevelt is the lack of bussing after 3pm. There are no busses going to Roosevelt after 3pm (like there are at other schools) until 2005. However, many of the students are staying after school in programs like basketball and football, etc.
In the Q&A time, the question about the contribution of drug usage came up. Surprisingly, criminals produce more methamphetamine (meth) and use more meth than any other state in the US. At Roosevelt, 30% of Fresh, 40% Juniors, 50% sophomores and 72% of seniors say they have used either drugs or alcohol.
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Jim Denevan, Principal of Roosevelt Senior High discusses racial issues facing Sioux Falls public schools

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Verlyn E. Hahn is a new Rotary member and is a Managing Partner at Thrivent Financial for Lutherans


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