Friday, January 28, 2011

HUSKY NEWSROOM: the prep hosts a school safety road show

Fairmont Prep hosted a School Safety Road Show on Tuesday, January 25, sponsored by the California Association of Directors of Activities (CADA), and endorsed by the Association of California School Administrators (ACSA) region 17. This show featured Teen Truth Live, North America’s premier student assembly experience, and a panel of key key leaders from around Orange County to address reducing bullying, improving school culture, and creating a community on our local campuses.

Teen Truth's JC Christopher presents to the packed audience.

Recent headlines stress the dangerous relationship between bullying and school violence – including violence toward oneself: suicide. We’ve been made more aware of how bullying negatively affects student performance in the classroom. According to the US Department of Justice, bullying is widespread and perhaps the most underreported safety problem on school campuses.

The road show was attended by nearly 200 local school administrators, school board personnel, teachers, students, and parents. The Prep was thrilled to include a number of representatives:
     Mr. Robert Mendoza, Headmaster
     Mr. Kiki Mendoza, Dean of Students
     Mrs. Wendy Faust, Activities Director
     Mrs. Lola Coleman, Science Teacher & Sophomore Class Advisor
     Mrs. Sheri Patel, Prep Parent & Parent Association Secretary
     Eleni Callas, Prep Class of 2012 & ASB Managing Commissioner
     Kelly Nguyen, Prep Class of 2012 & ASB Junior Class Secretary/Treasurer

Prep students Eleni C. and Kelly N. smile with
Mrs. Janet Roberts, Chino Hills High School activities director

CADA/CASL and Teen Truth Live’s mission for these types of shows is to give students a voice. They believe it only takes one hurtful action to ruin or change someone’s life forever. Erahm Christopher, one of Teen Truth’s facilitators, shared that his goal is to unite students in their community through “awareness, collaboration, inspiration and consistency.”

Staggering statistics of school violence and bullying have been in the forefront of media reports. In the past 14 years, school violence has affected:
  • 15 countries
  • 27 states
  • 151 students killed
  • 198 students wounded
  • 31 teachers killed
  • 11 teachers wounded

Teen Truth Live’s bullying video was shown to attendees, and scenes from Columbine High School’s 1999 tragedy reminded audience members why it’s important we tackle this issue. The video shared clips from students who shared that they look to others for self worth; they do whatever they can to fit in; they want to wear the “cool” clothes; they wonder “does he/she like me?”

"The most revealing part of [the video] was that those who commited the crimes were actually in some form or another bullied while at school," reflected Mrs. Sheri Patel, Prep parent. "Often the children were neglected at school, having no friends or teachers they could relate to, faced severe peer pressure, or were simply sad, lonely and angry inside," Patel continued.

The video shared important facts for everyone in our school community to keep in mind:
  • Excluding is bullying
  • Spreading a rumor is bullying
  • Intimidation is bullying
  • A physical attack is bullying
  • Bullying causes isolation, anxiety, anger
  • Bullying may cause someone to kill

“The film was powerful,” shared Prep student Eleni Callas. “It was the students’ voice, and the side of the story less often heard,” she continued.

Teen Truth’s JC Pohl reminded the audience, “If you’re not making a difference, you’re doing nothing. Start doing something.”

The Road Show “spoke not only of bullying in general, but gave the audience an insider look into the lives of the facilitators,” said Callas. “They built a trust with the audience in an attempt for them to tell their truth and to stop all bullying,” she finished.

The afternoon program included a panel of local community members:
  1. Paola Gonzalez, Loara High School Class of 2011
  2. Dr. Paul Morrow, Marina High School principal
  3. Don Shaffer, Kraemer Middle School activities director, CADA Convention Coordinator
  4. Jan Harp Domene, immediate past president of the National Parent Teacher Association
  5. Investigator Ed Arevalo, Anaheim Police Department
  6. Christine Laehle, Orange County Department of Education program specialist
Panelists for the Teen Truth Road Show

"The Road Show offered various aides for administrators to get connected with their students and transform the school life of their students to create a more safe community," shared Patel. These included:
  • From Dr. Paul Morrow: administrators should encourage open and honest input from parents, and be upfront with rumors they’re hearing; encourage parents to come forward with concerns or things they’re hearing
  • From Erahm Christopher: students should have at least five adults in their life they can turn to in times of need; parents, teachers, coaches, advisors, counselors, administrators
  • From Don Shaffer: have student leaders on campus work to meet each and every student so they can make a connection with them and find out who they are; this connection and information can help a school’s ASB structure activities and events based on student interest, and increase participation from a wider range of students
  • From JC Pohl: everyone who works in a school can impact a student, even a bus driver; they are the first to greet a student in the morning, and the last to say goodbye
  • From Paola Gonzalez: teach about the different cultures that are represented on your campus so students become more familiar with one another
  • From Don Shaffer: a quote from his friend and a leadership speaker, Phil Boyte, “It’s tough to hate someone whose story you know;” students have to make connections with one another and with their campus community
  • From Investigator Ed Arevalo: students who have a positive role model tend to be more connected to their school; some schools have started Parents Supporting Parents (PSP) programs, where parents help greet students in the morning before school; whether it’s a simple compliment, or a smile from a friendly face, it may be the only positive interaction a student has in a day

The Prep’s Mrs. Wendy Faust and Mr. Kiki Mendoza debriefed the experience of participating in the Teen Truth Road Show the following day. We discussed that it was a source of pride for us to know that we are doing many of the things at the Prep that were given as ideas to improve community on campus:
  • Our Headmaster meets monthly with Prep parents during “Sunrise Sessions” held the first Wednesday of every month; these informal breakfast meetings provide a forum for parents to discuss issues and concerns with Prep administrators
  • Our advisory program helps connect small groups of students with a faculty member whom they're able to get to know through bi-weekly meetings and activities as a group
  • Our ASB’s Cultural Awareness Commissioners work to celebrate the different cultural and religious events that are enjoyed by our diverse student body, and our annual Around the World celebration, held in the spring, gives students the chance to learn about other cultures through performances, activities, food, and dressing in cultural attire

The message received in the Road Show was strong, and Mr. K. Mendoza and Mrs. Faust will bring Teen Truth’s bullying and school violence video to the Prep during advisory time on Tuesday, February 8. The Prep has invested in Teen Truth’s curriculum to debrief and process the video as well. Together we can keep the Prep not only a safe campus, but a tight-knit community of students and faculty.

Thanks to CADA, the Road Show provided a number of resources for our student leaders to implement to improve school culture.

- Contributed by Mrs. Wendy Faust, Prep Activities Director & CADA Communications Coordinator

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