Bursting Lamorinda’s Bubble

Nick Johnson, Staff Writer

People in Moraga are out of touch with the rest of the world.

As Moraga children, we have a foolish conviction that we will all attend a top college, snag a prestigious career, marry a beautiful spouse and raise a perfect family. The “safety net” of the community and culture in which we’ve grown up has insulated us from any real risks and instilled in us inflated expectations.

When I hear people complain about living in a “boring” town, I want to remind them of what their community could be like had they been born into different circumstances.

Moraga boasts two shopping centers, a high end country club, a beautiful public park, and a movie theater. For a small town nestled between ranch land, open space and watershed, what more could one want?

Moraga is virtually crime free.  Forces of negative influence are minimal. According to the website Neighborhoodscout.com, the city of Moraga had  a total of 184 crimes in 2013, 34 of which were violent crimes, and no homicides and no home robberies.  Few communities in the Bay Area come close to Moraga’s low crime rate.

Students as well as school faculty and regular community members are free to focus on academics, careers, and families.

Contrast this with what students and families in urban communities like Oakland have to face. Oakland recorded 34,305 total crimes in 2013.

There are many days that gunshots ring out very near to Castlemont High School. According to an article by Denise Tejada on the National Public Radio website, the Oakland Police Department stated that between March and October 2013, there was an average of 3 shootings a day within 1.5 miles of Castlemont.

According to an article in The Contra Costa Times, a boy in an El Cerrito High School went to a juvenile detention center because he hit another boy over the head with a desk. The boy had lost a single dollar bill and accused the other boy of stealing it.

Perhaps a typical Moraga resident would be too distracted by their expensive smart phones, or just too careless with their money to even notice that someone had taken a single dollar from them.  I see the designer clothes worn to school, I watch the expensive cars that pull up to the curb to drop off students, I listen to the stories of tropical vacations taken over winter break, and I wonder whether or not kids in our town realize how different their lives are to almost everyone else on the planet.

In Oakland, there are schools without enough books or physical education equipment, so people from wealthy communities donate school supplies to them.

Are these people in Oakland, who are so close to us geographically, but seemingly so far away from us economically, responsible for their dilemma?

According to The Contra Costa Times, it costs the Contra Costa and Alameda counties $80 million to pay for truants. The Lamorinda Patch reports that truancy is a non existant problem in Lamorinda. In the 2012-13 school year, Las Lomas High School reported the most number of truant students in the district, 26. Campolindo reported having 5 percent of truant students during that same year.

Sometimes I think I’ve got problems, like too many tests, a zero on an assignment, or a disagreement with my parents. But in comparison to the struggles that children in Oakland are going through, most of my problems are trivial. I go to a school where there has been 1 reported act of violence on campus in the last 5 years, according to Associate Principal Sharon Bartlett.

Our life in Lamorinda is really something for which to be thankful.  My fear however, is that it has not prepared us for the “real world” challenges we will face when we finally step beyond the safety net and pierce the bubble.