SOCIAL MEDIA: Does your child have it? If so, here’s something you may want to know

By The End Of The School Year, Thousands Of Schools Will Be Monitoring Their Students’ Social Media

Privacy advocates worry about school districts snooping on their students’ social media accounts, but the students at one California high school don’t seem to mind.

via BuzzFeed Staff

John Gara / BuzzFeed

GLENDALE, Calif. — It’s Friday afternoon. School just got out at Hoover High. You can hear the drumline practicing in the distance. A group of senior guys sit talking kitty corner from campus as one of them skateboards.

The week before, the entire campus was abuzz with word the district was monitoring their social media accounts. “Somebody read something [online] and rumors spread,” says Andre Abramian, a senior.

Most of his friends had heard about it. A few hadn’t. “That’s fucked up!” one says after Abramian explains what happened. “That’s bullshit!”

The school district hired a Hermosa Beach firm, Geo Listening, to monitor students’ social media accounts and report back with what they find. Some attacked it as an invasion of privacy. The district sees it as a way to help students. The consensus among Abramian and his friends is that it’s about discipline.

“For like a week, everybody talked about it, but then nothing happened,” says Michael Rizzo, a senior. “I haven’t heard of anybody who got in trouble.”

Their teachers are mostly on board with the program. Rizzo says he’s only heard one opposed to it.

The next day, The New York Times will break news that the National Security Administration has been monitoring Americans’ social networks since 2010. The story was mostly lost in the lead up to the government shut down, and also, it’s not that surprising a revelation, considering the government has been tracking Americans’ phone records and emails.

Polling has shown that a majority of Americans think the government’s phone and email surveillance tactics are acceptable as an anti-terror tactic, and it’s not a stretch to assume they’ll feel the same way when asked about their social media.

Andre, Michael and their friends feel the same way. When asked if they’re OK with what the district’s doing, they shrug. They don’t think they ever post anything on social media that will get them in trouble anyways.

“We built this for the kids,” says Chris Frydych, Geo Listening’s CEO. “I just really wanted to have a greater impact in some of the areas involving school climate.”

Frydych hopes his service will make schools better by giving educators and administrators more information about their students. They look for evidence of bullying, drug use, violence, possible suicide and unauthorized use of technology in the classroom by using a blend of technology and employees who sift through the data to find meaningful information.

“We don’t interpret, we just provide information,” he says. “We get that information to people who work there every day and help.”

Geo Listening is expected to have 3,000 “school sites” as clients by the end of July across the country and internationally as well, Frydych says. He’s tight lipped over who the clients are, though. A confidentiality agreement means even curious districts thinking about signing up for the service can’t find out which of their neighbors are already using it. The only reason Glendale’s business became public was because it was picked up on by local media after being included in a district board meeting.

“The contract with Geo Listening was included in the district’s board agenda,” said Kelly Corrigan, a Glendale News-Press reporter, in an email. “The board approved it without any discussion then.”

The district had also piloted the program last spring, but Corrigan says as far as she knows, they never publicly discussed that. If it wasn’t for her reporting, the program would still be a secret.

Her story set off a media firestorm that drew the attention of the Los Angeles Times and CNN and drew criticism of privacy advocates. Frydych, who had previously listed the connection to the Glendale district on his LinkedIn profile, went private, Corrigan said. Glendale Superintendent Richard Sheehan defended the program, saying during its pilot phase, the district was able to intervene with a student who was contemplating suicide on social media. “We were able to save a life,” Sheehan told CNN.

Suicide prevention has become a top concern for districts. Sheehan said two students have committed suicide in the past year, and California has reduced mental health services in schools. It’s also an issue parents hold schools responsible for. In 2011, the parents of a Florida girl who committed suicide after being bullied for a topless photo she sent to a boy spread through the school, sued their school district, arguing they didn’t do enough after their daughter showed signs of being suicidal.

A district spokesperson said Sheehan was no longer speaking to media about the program. Glendale was burdened with the fallout from the story, but potentially hundreds of schools across the country are doing the same thing without students’ knowledge.

Frydych dismisses critics who say his service is a violation of privacy. He sees the outrage as misunderstanding from adults who are used to an Internet of email and passwords and privacy and don’t know the realities of publicly visible social media. “We only look at publicly available social media,” he says. “You make a conscious decision to publish publicly or privately.”

He also says this is something students want. “The students have stood up and said they want this,” he says.

At a district meeting after the program came to light, Hoover High School senior Audria Amirian, a student representative on the school board defended the program.

“They’re not hacking into your system to find out what you’ve posted,” she said,according to the Glendale News-Press. “Everything is public information. And I think that even if it saves one student’s life, it’s worth every dollar that you’ve put into it.”

Frydych says he doesn’t seem much competition in in Geo Listening’s future — “I think the companies are scared of liabilities,” he says — and they’re moving forward, working within the legal framework of each new state and country they enter. It’s a service more and more schools might look to as they grapple with how to handle students and social media.

“Adults have a very large blind spot for what’s happening on social media,” he says. “They don’t understand the volume of negative activity students see directed towards them and their peers.”

BUZZFEED: 25 Clever Costumes to wear as a group!

1. The Rugrats

The Rugrats

As presented by a variety of famous people.

2. Women Laughing Alone with Salad

Women Laughing Alone with Salad

Oh lettuce, you slay me!!

3. Tetris

Tetris

Get the full instructions here.

4. The Characters from Daria

The Characters from Daria

5. The Peanuts Characters

The Peanuts Characters

6. Pac-Man et al

Pac-Man et al

7. The Cast of Clue

The Cast of Clue

8. Chefs and a Lobster

Chefs and a Lobster

The happiest little meal there ever was.

9. Diary of a Wimpy Kid

Diary of a Wimpy Kid

It takes no time at all to pull together.

10. Mario-Kart

Mario-Kart

The bikes and balloons are what make this.

11. The Many Looks of Johnny Depp

The Many Looks of Johnny Depp

12. And Bill Murray

And Bill Murray

13. And Britney Spears

And Britney Spears

14. Chris Lilley’s Characters on Summer Heights High

Chris Lilley's Characters on Summer Heights High

15. Trolls

Trolls

The gem in the belly button is key.

16. The Witches from Hocus Pocus

The Witches from Hocus Pocus

Cleavage totally optional.

17. Beer Pong

Beer Pong

18. Nesting Dolls

Nesting Dolls

Bonus points if you have a bunch of humans who are different sizes.

19. Roller Coaster Enthusiasts

Roller Coaster Enthusiasts

20. The Royal Tenenbaums

The Royal Tenenbaums

21. The Golden Girls

The Golden Girls

22. Madeline, Miss Clavel, and the Other Girls

Madeline, Miss Clavel, and the Other Girls

If you’ve already got a private-school uniform, the rest is just hats and silly fake French accents.

23. The Very Motley Crew from Napoleon Dynamite

The Very Motley Crew from Napoleon Dynamite

24. Black-and-White Film Characters

Black-and-White Film Characters

You know how there are make-out costumes and non-make-out costumes? This is def the latter.

This Saturday! Peek at Portland event features eight stops showcasing Portland’s revitalization

by Terry Boyd via Insider Louisville

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Lately, you’ve likely read a lot about the transformation of Portland, and all the plans and visions.

Truth to tell, there’s a lot more going on in Portland than any media have reported.

Amid all the new plans, purchases and pioneering, there are multiple efforts in Portland that predate Gill Holland’s private initiative we told you about back in March. The rebirth of Portland dates back to Habitat for Humanity’s entre into the neighborhood back in 1985. (More about that in a post later this morning.)

This Saturday, there will be a big event, A Peek at Portland, that will give you the opportunity for a sample of the various projects completed or underway.

Peek at Portland is scheduled for 1 p .m. to 4 p.m., with tours beginning at Habitat for Humanity headquarters, 1620 Bank St., just south of Main Street.

Mint Julep Tours will provide transportation between stops, with a circulator running every 15 to 20 minutes. (Parking is available on the street and in Habitat’s lots on Columbia Street off 17th Street.)

Peek at Portland will take you to eight different projects:

Habitat for Humanity HQ at 16th and Bank streets was a former bakery.

Habitat for Humanity HQ at 16th and Bank streets was a former bakery. (Photo courtesy of Rob Locke , HfH.)

• Habitat for Humanity headquarters at 16th and Bank streets. This is the former headquarters for Taystee Bread Bakery. Habitat took over the building in 2010, with a major rehab, investing more than $2 million. Very impressive building and operation.

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Argo Network’s new headquarters at 537 N. 26th St.

• University of Louisville glass artist Che Rhodes’ home and studio at 20th and Main streets.

 Artists Dan Rhema and Susan Rhema are planning to renovate “The Hub,” a former department store at 17th and Market. Last month, the Rhemas received a $60,000 façade loan from the Louisville Metropolitan Business Development Corp to renovate the building, which runs from 1701-to-1703 W. Market St.

• Nulu-based Shine Contracting’s future headquarters at 1536 Lytle St. The space also houses renowned Louisville artistChris Radtke’s studio.

Nelligan Hall Front

Nelligan Hall

• Nelligan Hall, a former vaudeville theater at 2010 Portland St. converted into a home, concert venue and studio by artist Aaron Conaway.

• Entrepreneur/startup macher Richard Meadow’s new hacker hostel at 1518 N. 27th St. I’ve heard this is very close to opening, but haven’t visited.

• Argo Networkswhich just bought the former Masonic Lodge at 537 N. 26th St. in the commercial heart of Portland.

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The Compassion Building

• And last, but most reported on, The Compassion Building, which is the former Montgomery Street School at 250 Montgomery St. The Compassion Building will be the new headquarters for Holland’s Louisville offices of  The Group Entertainment movie and television business, as well sonaBLAST!, his music company and other operations.

And I have to say that talking with Rob Locke, Habitat for Humanity executive director, yesterday, lost in the reporting – including on Insider Louisville – is that there are many revitalization efforts going on in Portland, which you’ll see on Saturday.

In fact, the tours are sponsored both by Habitat for Humanity and by Holland’sPortland Investment Initiative.

And no question, the idea is to lure attendees into investing in Portland.

From the Peek at Portland news release:

A Peek at Portland will show visitors the energy and activity currently helping move the neighborhood forward. We invite you to consider Portland as a place to invest, a place to live, a place to work.

There will be eight locations around the neighborhood open and sharing their individual stories and opportunities: artists studios, a music venue, two homes, a center for art and healing, Habitat for Humanity’s headquarters and the Compassion Building.

Portland is a working class neighborhood with a long and storied history in Louisville. It has incredible potential for anyone with a little ingenuity and an ability to see beyond the challenges. Less than one mile from downtown, along the river Portland has a great mix of residential, commercial, and alternative spaces in a walkable, bikeable neighborhood.

The first time I talked with Gill, Aaron Conaway and consultant John Guthrie about Portland was in 2010 at the Habitat for Humanities headquarters. At the time, I didn’t get it. I thought, “This is going to take decades.”

Since then, I’ve spent a lot of time driving around Portland, and one thing I’ve noticed is that this giant neighborhood – unlike a lot of other up-and-coming neighborhoods such as Old Louisville – has a surprising amount of retail, a plus for future residents.

With the Argo deal and the news about Shine and Chris Radtke moving to Portland, you sense that in a very brief time, the transformation has taken on a momentum that is sustainable.