By Walnut Valley Unified
Suzanne Middle School 8th graders took a giant step forward in breaking down the walls of stereotypes and learning about the people around them during the 6th annual Summit. The exciting day of activities included workshops, discussions, and a motivational speaker.
About 475 students were divided into three groups to rotate through breakout sessions in classrooms, the field, and the multi-purpose room. The topic of the day was “Understanding and Overcoming Stereotypes”
“Students were mixed up into groups so they could get to know peers that they might not otherwise meet,” explained counselor George Ann Cusson.
The entire 8th grade class participated in a day of reflection and opportunities of personal growth,” said teacher Marla Rickard.
Classroom sessions allowed students to look at the impact of judging people and to reflect on personal impacts on all the parties. Some of the activities included If You Knew Me Well, the Tootsie Pop, and the Playing Card.
The field activities focused on team building through physical activities, a favorite was the Human Pyramid.
During the Stand Tall challenge in the MPR, students learned more about themselves and each other. They analyzed the Iceberg Theory to find ways to drop below the water level to get to know their fellow classmates.
Rickard and Cusson created the event made possible with the help several teachers and staff members, PLUS and PALS service club members, and leadership students. Thirty-one Walnut High School students and two graduates also come for the day to facilitate and lead all the breakout sessions.
“Without them the day would not be as successful. It’s a true team effort,” Rickard said.
“I think the kids are learning more about what they say to each other and to think before they speak,” said WHS senior and ASB president Phillip Silesky,
In one game, students asked their neighbor questions from a bowl. Some were serious – what would you do if you knew one of your friends was taking drugs? And some were funny – if you were invisible for one day what would be the first thing you would do?
“I probably wouldn’t even know I was invisible and just go to school!” one student replied.
After lunch, WHS graduate and motivational speaker, Dee Hankins spoke to the class about goal setting, rising above any situation, and encouraged the students to live their life with purpose.