Dear Annie: I am a middle school student, and I signed up for drama at the beginning of the semester. I've been working really hard at it.
The problem is, I failed one of my classes (out of seven). Because of that, I am not allowed to participate in drama. I have a speaking role with 17 lines and I don't think they can replace me in such a short time.
This really upsets me, especially because in the high school I'll be attending, you only need to pass four classes to participate in drama. What's worse is that they didn't give me or my parents any warning about how close I was to failing. I did know that I wasn't doing well in that class, and I was trying to bring up my grade. But I have anxiety issues and get panic attacks when I try to talk to teachers or people of authority (even my mom).
My parents emailed the school with a complaint, but I was wondering what you think I should do. -- Was Ready for Showtime in New Hampshire
Dear New Hampshire: We wish we could help you, but schools routinely penalize students by prohibiting them from doing special activities if they fail a required class. (It happens to football players and other athletes, too.) Such consequences are how schools hold students accountable.
You can try talking to the drama teacher to see if he or she would intervene on your behalf, and you also can talk to the teacher who gave you the failing grade, explaining that you were working hard to improve and didn't realize this would happen. If you have anxiety about talking to authority figures, try imagining that you are in a play and this is what your character does. It's good practice. You also can ask your parents to speak to these teachers directly, instead of leaving messages.
But if this is the policy of the school, there isn't much you can do. Consider it a learning experience, and keep it in mind for high school, when you can try out for drama and be motivated to put your grades first. We know you'll do better.
Dear Annie: I am writing in response to the letter signed, "Is This Normal," whose girlfriend bounces her 10-year-old son on her lap for 30 minutes.
Your response was not strong enough. This is child abuse. This mother should immediately be reported to the Department for Children and Family Services in their local community. The entire family can then receive the help they need, and this child can be protected. The report can be anonymous and can be done by calling the Department directly or by notifying the local police.
Please tell "Normal" to take the steps to protect this child from further abuse, and also to protect his young sister from having to watch her brother be abused on a daily basis. -- Social Worker
Dear Social Worker: Many readers suggested that this mother is a child molester. Perhaps so. But we think she is simply misguided and has gotten into a bad situation that she doesn't recognize or know how to fix. Whatever the case, we agree that the situation must be dealt with immediately.
Annie's Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please email your questions to anniesmailboxcreators.com or write to Annie's Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 737 3rd Street, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254. You can also find Annie on Facebook at Facebook.com/AskAnnies.
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