Senior class engages in Speak Up program


Photo by: Katie Holme

Editorial Writer, Editorial Writer

Analyzing the execution of the newly implemented social-emotional learning curriculum

l concepts that must be tackled in day-to-day life as modern society continues to reform these outdated ideas. On the day of the PSAT seniors gathered in specific classrooms to initiate better reform of these notions to spread awareness to the Bowie community. Specialized activities for seniors included a presentation by leadership students in classrooms over using the Speak Up program, the senior panel that featured Casey Benson, followed by a documentary that addressed specific issues of hatred, and finally college preparation at the end of the day.

Although it is important to spread awareness on bullying, as well as harmful behavior the Stand Up program, as well as the panel, could have been better executed with more personalization, and representation of all students.

The initial drive to address these concerns with seniors was to promote the problems on campus impacting the social environment encompassing social-emotional learning. Although these students had good intentions to motivate them with these senior activities, most of the presentations and activities felt disingenuous and even scripted. To intrigue seniors into becoming better role models for the community, there simply must be better ways of getting the class involved as an alternative to the power point, worksheet, panel, and documentary that was required of all seniors who attended.

Another issue with these activities was the lack of representation of the senior class demographics as a whole. All students who spoke on these issues were the highest functioning of the senior class, which was evident due to their positions as selected student leaders. Although these students are a great representation of the best of Bowie, they may not be able to relate to kids who are struggling in other areas.

Reaching the entirety of the senior class on a personal level is an extremely difficult expectation that cannot be met in the matters of a couple hours, but it is important to make efforts to represent all students of all races, religions, etc.

To do this though, students of different backgrounds must volunteer and be willing to talk about issues such as the pyramid of hate. The importance of representation reaches farther than the education of the senior class but can also alter the state of how many feel about their community. As Casey Benson explained, many who hurt tend to hurt others which then spirals into a cycle of negativity and resentment towards others. By representing students of all kinds, the administration could’ve had a better chance of truly teaching students lessons of tolerance.

With this being said, the activities planned were better than doing nothing. Leadership students could have used activities that better involved all students and shared their personal stories while still creating a comfortable environment.

For example, group activities such as team building at the beginning of the day could have strengthened the sense of safety and comfort amongst their peers, while also allowing seniors to get a chance to use skills that would then be taught by student leaders. Another possibility, that would require more administrative effort, would be to have seniors sign up for volunteering activities. Students would learn valuable lessons of kindness and tolerance through the act of doing rather than sitting on our behinds all day, half-awake, with a Red Bull in hand.

Personalizing a lesson for 650 students can be difficult, but giving students a chance to choose an activity they’re interested in, or polling the senior class on issues they believe are most important would hopefully interest students more. To ensure support for the mass of students, the administration should have provided students with other resources that they could utilize such as, accessibility to affordable/ free therapy services, family services, or self-improvement clinics.

Hatred is a lasting issue that will never fade, but there are effective initiatives that can be utilized to further educate and empower the future of our society. Bowie has an amazing and diverse student body, but change starts with individuals, which hopefully spreads to the whole.