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Board to render verdict on skits

Spare Change Theatre Troupe (submitted photo).
Spare Change Theatre Troupe (submitted photo).

By Nicholas Grube

Triplicate staff writer

Sex will be a major talking point at Del Norte Unified School Board's Thursday meeting.

Board members plan to discuss an alternative, and somewhat controversial, form of sex education for Del Norte High students – peer education – and whether to allow it at the school.

At the board's March 22 meeting, school officials addressed scripts submitted by the Six Rivers Planned Parenthood's Spare Change Theater Troupe, which is a group of teen actors who travel throughout Northern California performing skits on teen sexual education.

"It's an educational tool that is of value," Six Rivers' Education Dir-ector Debbe Hartridge said. "It shows high school students that teach other high school students (about) taking care of themselves and being responsible.

"It's a group of youth that works really hard because they care a lot about making the world a better place. They want to be part of a solution to (teen) problems."

To do this, the troupe – comprised of high school students from throughout Humboldt County – writes skits to relay messages that are found inside high school sex education courses. But they add another facet not usually found inside the classroom – humor.

For instance, one of the skits spoofs Star Wars to explain to students how to talk with their parents about sex. In a proposed script a father, acting as Darth Vader, attempts to discuss sex with his son, Luke, in what turns out to be a rather awkward conversation.

Darth Vader: "Luke I am your father."

Luke: "Noooooooo!"

Darth Vader: "Yeessss!"

Luke: "But how?"

Darth Vader: "Well, um, well, um, oh man, how do you put it. OK. So there's an X-Wing and a Death Star. And the X-Wing is trying to shoot ‘laser beams' into the Death Star's main core."

It goes on like this until the very end, when Darth Vader, the father, says: "Well, I'm glad we had this talk, Luke. And may the force be with you."

Many of the scripts, which the Spare Change actors write themselves, use this type of rapport to relate these difficult subjects to the teenagers in the audience.

"I'm a strong believer in humor as an educational tool," Hartridge said, "But that idea of using humor is not something that everyone gets."

At the previous school board meeting, many of the board members voiced their concern and, in some cases, downright disgust with the scripts.

"To be honest, I thought this was gross," said School Board President Faith Crist, a former health teacher. "It isn't a matter of how much you know, it's how you perform."

Even the potential costuming and stage props caused some apprehension at March's board meeting.

"As I read each skit," board member Bill Maffett said, "I was picturing being creative about costuming and what these costumes could be."

Board member Bob Berkowitz added, "These values (presented in the scripts) are not my values ... But I have to think, are my values, my ethics representative of the community?"

Since that meeting the scripts have been on display at the district offices. However, secretaries from the office said they only distributed about 10 copies of the transcripts to the public, and have not heard much feedback from anyone since they were made available.

If the board approves the scripts and allows Spare Change to come to the high school, it will be group's third performance at the school.

Student evaluations from last year's performance at Del Norte High found that 30 percent of students thought the performance would "very likely" motivate their classmates to make healthier choices. Another 30 percent said the skits were "likely to have that effect," and another 30 percent said "maybe." Ten percent of student evaluations said the skits were "not likely" to motivate student choices.

Reach Nicholas Grube at This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it

Sex Talks

•What: Del Norte Unified School Board Meeting.

•When: 5:30 p.m. Thursday

•Where: Education Center Building, Curriculum and Instruction Center, 301 W. Washington Blvd., Crescent City

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