OWL – 8th and 9th Grade

Dear 8th & 9th Grade Parents,

We are pleased to announce that Northwoods UUC will be offering the Our Whole Lives Comprehensive Human Sexuality Curricula for 8th & 9th graders, beginning in December. A class schedule can be found here: OWL Schedule. Sign up for classes here.

We are asking for a commitment from both you and your children. It is of utmost importance that students attend EVERY class. Every session builds upon the previous session, and adds to the next. Absences can only be permitted in true emergency situations. To this end we have done our best to devise a class schedule that works around holidays and special events. Please examine the attached schedule carefully. If it is necessary and possible to massage the schedule to suit everyone’s needs better, we will do our utmost.

In the main, classes will last for 3 hours on Sunday afternoons, generally every other week. There are also several Friday-Saturday overnight sessions. This allows us to present more material in less time, but much more importantly it facilitates the bonding and trust between students which is essential to this kind of a program. In addition, we are planning a Friday evening field trip to Planned Parenthood.

The first session will be January 19, 2018 and the course is scheduled to end on May 19.

Why Do We Teach Sexuality Education? Sexuality education and healthy relationship formation are too important to be ignored in a religious community, especially in a state where public sex education is so actively discouraged. Our society is saturated with images of sex, but far too often these images are completely lacking in love and mutual respect. Our Whole Lives offers curricula about sexuality and our faith that model and teach caring, compassion, respect and justice in a way that affirms the dignity of every individual and the importance of personal responsibility. Basically, OWL is about healthy relationships, communication, human anatomy, social pressures, gender identity and related topics. Most importantly, OWL is about teaching our children to make good decisions for themselves.

MANDATORY Parent Orientation is scheduled for January 7, 2018. It is an absolute requisite for every child attending an OWL class that a parent or guardian attend this orientation. There we will be presenting to you the information and materials that we will be teaching your children.

Parent Orientation will also address the type of support we will need from you- primarily with chaperonage on overnights and with providing food and snacks.

The Facilitators The team includes Jeff Graeber, Keri Richardson, Natalie Ward, and Ryan Hoffland, all of whom are Certified OWL Trainers. Laura Connelly, also certified, will be our liaison with Planned Parenthood. And Reverend Donna, who is also certified to teach OWL classes of all age levels, will be on hand with assistance and advice when needed.

What is OWL? The Our Whole Lives series was launched in 1999 as part of a collaboration between the Unitarian Universalist Association and the United Church of Christ. The middle school curriculum was updated in 2015 to include expanded lessons on social media and the internet, pornography, bullying, gender identity and sexual orientation. Our Whole Lives, true to its name has classes for K- 1st grade, 4th – 6th grades, 7th – 9th grades, 10th – 12th grades, young adults, adults, and senior adults. We hope to be offering all these classes in the future, but the consensus among sexual educators is that the most important time for a child to be offered this education is the middle school years.

OWL emphasizes:

• Information about sexuality, growth and development, human reproduction, anatomy and physiology, family life, masturbation, pregnancy and childbirth, parenthood, sexual orientation, contraception, abortion, sexual abuse, HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections.

• Attitudes, Values and Insights, allowing students to explore and articulate their own attitudes, to better understand their family values, to develop insights concerning relationships, and to learn how to make better decisions.

• Relationships and Interpersonal Skills

• Responsibility

We hope you will want your child to take part in this. It is a very big commitment, both for you and your child. Indeed at times it will probably be an inconvenient commitment. The benefits to your child, however, will far outweigh any inconvenience.

With Thanks and Blessings,

Jeff Graeber

Northwoods OWL Coordinator