I had the opportunity with my wife to watch the movie, 'Race to Nowhere' (www.racetonowh a few nights ago at the Lake Oswego High School auditorium.

The movie illustrated how today's high school kids feel an incredible amount of pressure to 'perform' both academically and socially at a time in their life when things are already challenging. I would highly recommend parents and kids watch it together, if your family can find the time.

We are moving towards a busier life in a society where family dinners, monopoly games and walks on the beach are almost non- existent. Carving out quality time on a daily basis becomes a challenge even with the greatest intentions.

In the movie and during the 'open mic' session following the movie, I heard from some of our own parents and students alike (some in tears) as to why our great community is also in the 'Race To Nowhere.' Some of the disturbing comments that hit home were:

* I need to take six AP classes to get into a good college.

* I usually go to bed about 2 and get up at 6.

* My daughter has gotten very sick due to the stress.

* I fill my head for the test but a week later I can't remember any of the subject matter.

* My kids ask me for math help but don't want me to explain why the answer is the answer. They need to 'learn how to learn.'

* My child is depressed.

* When I walk by the honor roll list in the main hall and I don't see an asterisk by my name (4.0 gpa), I feel like I have failed.

* I think I need good grades in high school so I can get into a good college, to get a good job, to make a good wage but I am not sure what a 'good life' is all about.

* I need to cheat to keep my grades up.

* A high school in Wyoming cut homework in half and test scores increased.

* I wish I would have done things differently with my daughter.

I want my kids and your kids to be the best, well-rounded young adults the world has to offer, not just 4.0 students. To achieve this, our kids need time to sleep; they need time to read; they need time for play. They need time to be kids.

In this community and others, we are all competitors. However, the coach needs to tell everyone it is OK to run this one lap today a little slower and see what we might be missing. Our kid's life is a marathon. Let's not burn them out at mile one.

Therefore, I challenge the Lake Oswego and Lakeridge high school administration to declare a 'day of no homework' and instead issue an assignment to the students and their parents to watch this movie as a family. The next day students can recap their findings in class with fellow students and teachers. Let's send a message of priorities.

I think students, parents and the schools will be surprised what they learn about each other and themselves. That is if we care enough to take the time and do it.

Bill Ellis is a resident of Lake Oswego.

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