Students hoping to see a 'Shift' in peer attitudes
High school sophomores (from left) Aliya Harris, Sierra Weiss, Allyiah Donnell and Tyler Parker are hoping to foster more kindness and respect among their peers at Reynoldsburg's eSTEM Academy through a program they are developing called Shift.
Four sophomores at Reynoldsburg's eSTEM Academy are hoping to cause a "shift" in student thinking and foster more kindness, respect and compassion among their classmates.
Tyler Parker, Aliya Harris, Allyiah Donnell and Sierra Weiss approached Principal Marcy Raymond recently with an idea they called "Shift."
"Shift would focus on bettering student relationships with their peers," Parker said.
She said the group hopes to present a weekly program during Fusion classes that could include group discussions, communication-focused games, activities and presentations from past Reynoldsburg graduates.
Raymond said Fusion classes meet daily.
"They are our way of connecting the academic, social and emotional components of growth and development, while fostering the creative confidence to do the really hard work it takes to be college- and career-ready," she said.
She said the girls will be working with the 10th-grade Fusion teachers to refine the idea to "shift thinking toward more courage, kindness and respect."
"This is one example of the drive for our students to open themselves to be an example of what others should be thinking about," she said. "It also means that they are willing to look at themselves and what they can do to promote the culture that we need at eSTEM."
Parker said she and the other girls developed their idea after they noticed some "extreme" problems at school.
"We keep seeing things like segregation, extreme separation between peers and daily racism," she said. "Too many people are being rude and disrespectful.
"We kept trying to think of what we could do to change things for the better," she said. "We want to be able to all work together."
Harris said that the Shift program is meant to be "a way of changing your mindset from being separated to feeling like a family and working together."
"I'm hoping that we can all get closer and that I will feel happier when I go to school," she said. "Usually I'm a happy person, but when you have drama with your peers, it affects your grades and your feelings about school."
Parker said the group is planning team-building activities to take place at least weekly.
"We would begin with an introduction of what activities we will do and then try to start big group discussions about how we feel about what is going on in the school," she said. "One activity might be where everyone stands in a line and you talk about a certain issue, and ask for people to step over the line if they can relate to that."
She said anything that will bring classmates closer would be valuable.
"I want us to be able to respect each other and tolerate differences," she said. "We need to be able to work together and feel like more of a family."
Raymond said eSTEM Academy was founded in the belief "that design thinking is paramount to being able to engineer solutions to the problems we encounter."
"Students engaged in design thinking are creative and confident enough to lead," she said. "We think that student-led experiences are the most powerful in the process of design for a school. It is a component of this belief that causes our students to examine their environment and look for ways to make it operate better."
She said the Shift program will fit nicely into the Fusion class goals, which are to foster "courage, kindness and respect."
She said the preliminary plans for the program are to deliver it over at least four Fusion classes.
"We see problems among students on a daily basis," Parker said. "We are hoping that the Shift program will help find a solution to some of those problems."