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Voice: Calexico High students using peer influence to fight school violence

April 06, 2001

I just wanted to share something with you regarding school violence and peer pressure.

After the recent shootings at both Santana High School and Granite Hills High in the San Diego area, there is hardly anything you can say that would be good about school violence. That is unless someone does something positive about it.

It all started with a Calexico High School senior whose name is Noemi Arias. Having younger siblings at Blanche Charles Elementary school, she wondered about how elementary students were getting the message about peer pressure and violence. She had recently attended a parent meeting about the subject of school violence and decided that one of the ways of talking to young students about peer pressure and school violence could be from older students, a kind of big brother/sister approach that would give them some "positive" peer influence.

Noemi went to work, enlisting fellow high school students to participate in this worthy task. In one week she and her crew of fellow Calexico High students wrote and produced a skit. They then separated themselves into small teams to visit classrooms after the skit to provide a positive peer interaction and to process their skit. The Calexico Unified School District supported their efforts by giving them transportation to the school site.

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On March 29 they visited Blanche Charles Elementary School and presented their skit, visited the classrooms, speaking directly to fourth-, fifth- and sixth-graders about peer pressure and school violence. I can say that it was a resounding success.

Once the discussion ended about the subject of the skit, the elementary students began interacting with the older high school peers, asking many questions and receiving a lot of support and input.

I was at Blanche Charles with this group as a chaperone. Since this is my kind of thing anyway, I volunteered to go along. I can only say that this selfless effort by the students of Calexico High School will go along way in creating a positive influence in the school district as well as a safer environment for the students of Calexico Unified School District.

Thank you, Noemi Arias, and to your fine group of friends for caring enough to make a difference.

DAVID COLE

Calexico High School

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