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Issaquah, Washington
December 2, 2009     The Issaquah Press
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December 2, 2009

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SECTION B THE ISSAQUAH PRESS C 0MMIINITY WEDNESDAY~ DECEMBER 2~ 2009 Local family joins crusade to end the choking game By Chantelle Lusebrink lssaquah Press reporter Stepping onto the stage at Chimacum Middle School in Chimacum Oct. 13, Ken Tork took a deep breath and began saving lives by confronting a deadly game. Students throughout the state, nation and the world are playing the choking game and Tork said he knows two things about it: That it's not a game and that it has deadly consequences. Tork, his wife Kathy, and 11- year-old daughter Kelly Tork know all too well the game's deadly con- sequences. The couple lost their only son, Kevin, a 15-year-old sophomore at Issaquah High School, to the game March 30. Kevin's death is the reason Ken Tork was called to Chimacum. On Oct. 7, medics arrived to care for a student who'd passed out after be- ing choked by a friend before a third-period class. Students play the game to get a high, which occurs when their brains are deprived of blood and oxygen. Principal Whitney Meissner said she was shocked her students could make such a mistake. "I was and continue to be dis- appointed at the lack of judgment on the part of the students. How- ever, impulsivity is somewhat typical of adolescents, so we do need to anticipate that kids will do unexpected things," she wrote in an e-mail. "I think that the more kids know about reality the better." A life cut short Kevin Tork was a good son and an excel- lent student. "He was like many of you. He liked to hang out with his friends, he was happy, high achieving gevinTotk - he had a 3.9 G.P.A, loved poetry, baseball and basketball," Ken Tork told stu- dents. "This game doesn't care where you're from, who your fam- ily is, whether you re male or fe- male, rich or poor, or black or white." Kelly found Kevin in his room. He wasn't breathing and was lean- ing forward with a bathrobe tie wrapped around his neck. In the auditorium, frantic 911 calls from Kelly and Kathy were played for Chimacum students. "You have to help, me," Kelly said on the tape. I m really scared and I'm only 11." Paramedics arrived and quickly moved took Kevin to Harborview Medical Center. During that ride, they had Kevin's heart beating and he was breathing, Ken Turk said. But by the time they arrived, though, he was pronounced dead. "I lost my best friend," Ken Tork said. Ending the choldng game "Since my son died, an addi- tional 31 kids have died because See CHOKING GAME, Page B3 BY GREG FARRAR Kelly Tork (le~) pets Cotton while gathered with parents Ken and Kathy in the kitchen as they share memories of Kevin and discuss the presentation they have developed for school students about the dangers of the choking game. COHMONIERMS The choking game Pass-out game Space monkey Blacking out/blackout WHATTO KNOW 87 percent of victims are male. Most that died were between 11 and 16. Nearly all who died were playing alone. Deaths have occurred throughout the U.S. STAHSli The Dangerous Adolescent Behavior Education Foundation esti- mates that 416 injuries or deaths have been related to the choking game since 1974, 35 of those from this year. . ~ The Centers for Disease Control estimates at least 82 children, ages 6-19, have died as a result of the choking game between 1995 and 2007. But those results are limited to cases where the deaths produced some sort of media report. WARNING SIGNS Discussion of the game or its aliases Bloodshot eyes ~" Marks on the neck Wearing high-necked shirts Disorientation after spending time alone Increased and uncharacteristic irn- tability or hostility Ropes, scarves, belts tied to bed- room fumiture, doorknobs or found knotted on the floor Unexplained presence of dog leashes, choke collars or bungee cords near a child's room Pinpoint-sized bleeding spots under the skin of the face, especially on the eyelids or the lining of the eye- lids and eyes Source: Centers for Disease Control LONG-1ERM EFFECTS Loss of consciousness Coma Seizures Death of brain cells due to oxygen deprivation can cause memory loss and lack of coordination Concussions Broken bones, like the jaw, from falls Hemorrhages of the eye Leaming disabilities Attention and behavior disorders Hostility WHERE TO GET HELP Centers for Disease Control: www.cde.gov/Features/ChokingGame For Kevin's Sake: http://forkevinssake.wordpress.com/ The Dangerous Adolescent Behavior Education Foundation: chokinggame.net Youth Suicide Prevention Program: www.yspp.or8 or call the crisis line 206-461-3222 Two Issaquah educators join Teach For America Corps By Hunter Oeiglmeier Two teachers from Issaquah are teaching through the Teach For America Corps for the 2009-2010 school year. Marissa Haberlach and Jes- sica Lawler graduated from Is- saquah High School in 2005 and then went on to receive their undergraduate degrees at prestigious universities. Haber- lach graduated from the Uni- versity of Southern California; Lawler graduated from Brigham Young University. Haberlach became interested in Teach For America when she learned about it from col- lege recruiters on the USC cam- pus. However, her interest in education began when she dis- covered a passion for science, which ultimately helped her de- cide to become a teacher. "I wanted to share my inter- est and passion for science and the human body, and teaching was a great way to do that," she said. Haberlach is now living in Oakland, Calif., where she is teaching seventh-grade science at Claremont Middle School. She was eager to start her work with Teach For America, which aims to provide im- proved education for students of low income. "I think what inspired me to join Teach For America was its mission to bridge the educa- tional gap and to provide equal access to education," she said. Lawler learned about Teach For America through an e-mail See TEACHERS, Page B3 Student goes learning around the world in 157 days By Katie Ormsby enthusiastically. Issaquah native Sarah Charleston isn't in Kansas, or Washington, anymore. While she may not be over the rainbow, the St. Olaf College senior is quickly becoming a world citi- zen through the school's Global Semester program. It is a five- month whirlwind of class lectures, field trips and sightseeing in seven countries (Switzerland, Turkey, India, Thailand, China and minute and every country. This is not her first time abroad. Previously, she traveled to Peru on two church mission trips. She traveled to Europe for the first time with her family when she was 4 or 5. Currently in India, Charleston said in an email, "I never hid that I was most excited for Egypt this se- mester, and I did love every minute of my time there, but India is absolutely without a doubt amazing! The people, the colors, the places, the monkeys (even though they are super creepy), the sites, the smells, the chai tea, everything is spectacular. Where tobegin? The really noticeable thing is that there is so much color every- where. Such a contrast from the dull, tan coloring of Egypt." While in India, Charleston has learned about Hinduism, Jainism and Sikhism. She is excited to learn about Buddhism next. Her highlight in India has been the program's visit to the Wagh School for Children, part school and part orphanage and open to children of prostitutes. "The head of the school is a wonderful Indian couple who take in children, educate them and help find them jobs regardless of social class, gender or economic status, Charleston said. She learned that the Hindu caste system is still very prominent in Indian society. Charleston said she also loved Cairo and described it as a really int, e nse city. It can be very hard to navigate. Overwhelmin._g at times. Crossing the street is like putting your life in CONTRIBUTED Above, Sarah Charleston, of Issaquah, 'kisses' the Sphinx in an optical illu- sion of perspective during her Global Semester program tour as a student at St. Olaf College, a liberal arts university in Minnesota. At right, Charleston is amid fellow students in the St. Olaf College Global Semester program as they walk back down a rocky staircase alter climbing Mount Sinai in Egypt. fate's hands. Absolutely no Egypt- ian driver abides by the few traffic laws." She said that her classes at the American University of Cairo were interesting. "It was great to learn about something one day, and go see it the next," she said. Her travel tips for Egypt in- clude: "Visit the Giza Pyramids, indulge in the street ice cream and try the mango flavor, buy real papyrus, ride a camel, kiss the Sphinx, travel to the Valley of the Kings in Luxor and see King Tut's mummy, take a nighttime sail along the Nile, spend a day in the Cairo Museum and pay the extra 60 pounds to go into the mummy room, and listen to Egyptian pop music!" Her dad, Jay Charleston, re- membered a story he found partic- ularly entertaining from her time in Egypt. "While Sarah climbed Mount Sinai at 2 a.m., there were camels moving up and down the moun- tain. It was so dark that her group couldn't see them coming and the camels had very quiet hooves, so CONTRIBUTED Sarah Charleston (center) and a few of her classmates cover their heads with scarves while visiting the Blue Mosque, built between 1609 and 1616 in Istanbul, Turkey. they couldn't hear them, either. The only way Sarah knew that a camel was around her was when she felt its breath on her back. She told me that she jumped around a lot that night, because it went on like that the whole 6,000 feet up. The camels made Mount Sinai a unique experience for her." Istanbul, Turkey, was second on Sarah's itinerary. Charleston's dgroup was lucky enough to visit uring the month of Ramadan, when Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset. "We got to celebrate in the evenings around the Blue Mosque with the people while they broke their fast. When we visited differ- ent mosques, we would cover our heads like the women there do, which was a really cool experi- ence," she said. "I think my favorite part of visit- hag Turkey," she added, was hearing the Call to Prayer for the Muslims echoed throughout the city five times a day. It was so beautiful and relaxing to hear. Here in India, I miss it." All of her adventures started in Geneva, Switzerland. While there, the group attended UN briefings about organizations such as UNICEF. "The UN meetings were all very interesting and informative, but the one session that stayed with me was UNICEF. I am in love with UNICEF and all they do .... I would love to work for UNICEF one day, but like all other UN branches, you need to be fluent in at least three languages to be con- sidered. Something to work on when I am home," Charleston said Recounting her first day in Geneva, she said, "Of course, be- ing in a new city and not knowing French, we ended up taking the bus to France (only five minutes from where they stayed). However, we figured out the route and laughed at our mistake. It's not every day [ou accidentally end up in France! The semester abroad has been quite the experience for Charleston. "It's fun to hear from Sarah and get updated on all of her adven- tures," her dad said. "Unfortu- nately, that isn't as often as I would like, since she has limited Internet connection while travel- ing. As a parent, you naturally worry a bit when you can't get ahold of your child very easily. Af- ter all, she still is my baby girl. The program does have a blogfor parents to follow along, though. Sarah also blogs when she can. I try to stay connected as much as possible." "Global Semester provides stu- dents with a series of unique op- portunities to gain insight into is- sues confronting the nonWestern world," according to St. Olaf's Web site. "The countries selected figure prominently in the political and cul- tural life of the Middle East, South Asia and East Asia. Direct aca- demic involvement through lec- tures, discussion, field trips, read- ing and exams deepens each stu- dent's understanding of the prevail- ing issues and provides a total ex- perience." "I think this has been a fantastic experience for Sarah," Jay Charleston said, "I'm very proud of her. The program has costs ad- ditionally to her St. Olaf tuition, and Sarah worked to save up the money for the trip. She is paying all of the extra expenses." Charleston appears to, be getting her hard-earned money s worth. "Next, we go to Thailand for a week, Hong Kong for a month, Mainland China for a few days and then South Korea for a month," she said. "I'm super excited!" Katie Ormsby is a student in the University of Washington Department of Communication News Laboratory.