By Karen Vance
ST. BERNARD - Jenny Berry is an 18-year-old senior at St. Bernard-Elmwood Place High School. She's also the mother of a 2-year-old girl, Miranda.
Berry became pregnant at 15, and since then life has not been easy. And that's the message she's tried to spread to more than 500 middle-school students and other young teens this year as part of a teen-parent panel.
"I try to tell them that having a baby is not like baby-sitting. The baby is there all the time," she said. "Sex is not worth it. It's overrated."
Berry has given 25 presentations at seven schools as part of Cincinnati Children's Hospital's Postponing Sexual Involvement educational program.
She was serving as a student representative on a board for Grads, a program to help student-mothers graduate from high school and provide them parenting education, when Children's Hospital brought up the idea of a teen-parent panel.
"I had sex education in health class, but I never really had anybody talking to me about sex. I thought it was never going to happen to me," she said. "I know I can't stop people from having sex, but I hope I can influence some of them not to."
After high school, Berry, who has a 4.0 grade-point average, plans to attend Cincinnati State Technical & Community College and major in accounting. She credits Grads and her mother's support for much of her success.
College Hill is a little more colorful thanks to the work of the College Hill Gardeners Club and students from Clark Montessori School.
Thirty-six seventh- and eighth-graders and five high schoolers helped members of the club clean several places, including a traffic island at Belmont Avenue and North Bend Road.
"It was a great gift, and the weather worked out so it was warm enough for them to enjoy being outside," said Beth McLean, president and co-founder of the club, which is in its second year.
The high schoolers helped clean up and prepare for planting at the 14-acre Llanfair Retirement Community, 1701 Llanfair Ave.
"They worked so hard, raking and cleaning up. These were just great kids and so hard-working," said Phyllis Schoenberger, a resident of the community and co-founder of the club.
Volunteerism is a part of the curriculum at Clark. Students are required to give community service to graduate, 36 hours a year at the junior high and 50 hours a year at the high school.
Work students did last week, which ranged from beautification projects such as the ones in College Hill to helping out at soup kitchens, was part of a community service week and intercession.
"It's something we do for the community, and it's something we hope will become a part of their lives," said Principal Tom Rothwell.
And teachers such as Jean Marquard find a way to connect the work to the curriculum.
"They learned about the movement of ideas and the impact of direct action," she said. "They not only read about things, they go do it, and they make a connection to their neighborhood and their community."
Allen Howard is on vacation. Karen Vance will write "Some Good News" until he returns. If you have a "good news" story you would like to share, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
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