Anger management was topic of student program

This article submitted by Linda Stelling on 4/21/98.

Aunt Myrtle and her friendly advice program came to the Paynesville Area Middle School Thursday afternoon.

Aunt Myrtle is actress Laura Clark-Hanson, founder of Cornerstone Productions, Minneapolis. Cornerstone Productions is a company dedicated to creating theater which promotes the exploration of social issues.

ďQuestionsĒ is the theme of the one-act plays presented by Clark-Hanson. They are comprised of five scenes highlighting specific issues faced by students from smoking, peer cruelty and stereotypes, to anger management, eating disorders and substance abuse.

The first skit featured a hip hop song as a dancing skeleton reveals the shocking truth behind the advertising myths of smoking. ďJoe Camel isnít so cool behind those sunglasses as camels are mean animals and all you get is camel breath and brown teeth. Smoking produces harmful chemicals in the form of acetate, cyanide, lead, ammonia, phosphorous and ethyl,Ē Aunt Myrtle stresses.

In the skit on peer cruelty and stereotypes, four characters prove that thereís more to people than how they look and what they wear.

ďPeople shouldnít slap labels on kids because they appear different. In one skit, it showed a boy who acts and looks tough, but deep down he is a softy who wouldnít hurt a fly. In another skit, it showed a shy girl who had hidden talents. In a third skit, the most popular girl in school with the reputation for all beauty and no brains was actually very intelligent.

ďIt is hard not to judge students. A person needs to look past the surface and you might be amazed at what you find,Ē Aunt Myrtle told the students.

Aunt Myrtle interacted with the students walking between them and talking to them on a one-to-one basis during the performance.

The anger management skit showed students they should stop and listen to what they are saying to their parents and friends. ďPeople need to learn how to argue,Ē Aunt Myrtle stressed. ďThink before you speak, donít irritate, negotiate and stop a war before it starts.Ē

In the final skit on substance abuse, she used the premise what would happen if innocent vegetables could get people high. She used sauerkraut as the drug of choice. The sight of her eating cold sauerkraut out of the can grossed many of the kids out.

Clark-Hanson went on to tell the students why she started Cornerstone Productions. Her younger brother thought it no big deal when he started stealing and drinking beer as a fifth grader. By the time he was in eighth grade, he had graduated to smoking pot and by the time he was in senior high, he was on hard core drugs.

Her brother died when he was 18 of a heart attack. He spent the last year of his life in a mental institution because of drugs. ďI donít like to hear people say using drugs or smoking is no big deal, because it is a very big deal as it can ruin your life,Ē she told the students.

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