Going behind closed doors

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By talking to youngsters and providing them with the resources to deal with it, the Wilson students felt they could make a difference by stopping violence in the home and its spread into the community.

Their research, compiled in a report entitled Violence Behind Closed Doors, caught the attention of a staff member for the state legislature during Law Day in Sacramento in May.

He alerted them that an assembly committee was about to hold hearings on a proposed bill to fund an anti-domestic violence program in the state's schools.

As an exciting climax to their project, the students were invited to present their report to the committee and provide testimony, giving them a chance to make a contribution to proposed state legislation.

At Yosemite High School in rural Oakhurst, attorney Gary Blate worked with a group of students in John Minkler's class who determined that the increase in vehicle traffic in the pristine Yosemite Valley was creating tension in surrounding communities.

The students gathered facts, figures and opinions related to the problem of burgeoning tourism and its negative impact on the environment. They even attended the Yosemite Transportation Symposium in Fresno, where they discovered even more opinions and solutions they had not previously considered.

They eventually came up with a plan to eliminate most cars from the valley, with parking areas to be built on cost-free forest service land outside the four major entrances and transportation handled by propane-powered buses. Their proposed budget runs in the neighborhood of $70 million.

By the end of the school year, the high school freshmen were presented with the Youth Citizenship Award from Congressman George Radan-ovich's district, in recognition of their work.

Working with two members of the community who had previously campaigned unsuccessfully for a similar plan, the students currently are assisting legislative aides from the congressman's office in an effort to follow through with legislation to fund their proposal.