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Brandon Schools: 'Peers Making Peace'



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Front from left, Katie Haggadone, Miranda Cheers,Tatiyana Harris, Stephanie Spezia (teacher), Nicole Stema, (teacher), Elyse Horner (teacher), Nate Odinga (teacher), Megan Justice, Katie Forster, Jasmin Ashby. Back row from left, Kathryn Burman, Cameron Tahaney, Damiano Liviero, Aaron Shahin, Derek Darling, David Cook, Karlie Bunting, Sierra Androws, Randy Escamillo, and David Outen. Participants of the Peers Making Peace program. Photo by Patrick McAbee. (click for larger version)
November 16, 2011 - Brandon High School is working towards becoming a conflict-free learning environment.

"Peers Making Peace" is a new program at BHS that is centered around conflict resolution between students. For a total of 15 hours, which spanned three full school days, BHS students trained to be problem solvers by learning skills of being active listeners, asking the right questions, and getting other students to talk. Originally 108 students applied, but only 16 were accepted.

"If you just let a problem sit there, it doesn't get any better," said Nathan Odinga, BHS English teacher and "Peers Making Peace" program coordinator. "A crazy number of students don't come to school every day because they're scared."

Students were taught not to give advice to other students, but to sit down and solve problems in an adult-like situation. "There are very specific stages," said Odinga.

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The six-step program that students were taught includes performing an introduction, laying out the rules, having each side share their views and concerns, discuss what everyone can do to solve the problem, resolve, and then agree.

A similar program was introduced at BHS earlier this school year called "Power of 100," where 100 students were chosen to put an end to bullying at BHS. Odinga says the "Peers Making Peace" does tie in, but it's more of a "level playing field" than anti-bullying.

"We just want to improve the climate of the school," said Odinga.

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