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Bob Jones High School presents its peer mediators

By By Thomas Tingle
Record Managing Editor
Two students at a local high school get involved in an altercation in the hallway of the school.
The students begin fighting and bad language is exchanged. Other students who are in the hallway only stand and watch. They don't want to get involved in fear of getting hit. The two students end up going to the principal's office and both are suspended from school for several days.
Could something have been done to prevent the altercation from occurring? Was there something their peers could have done to get them calmed down enough to rationalize the situation?
A group of Bob Jones High School students are doing just that in the effort to promote better communication among the student body rather than seeing a fight break out or hearing bad language.
In its third year, the Peer Mediation Program is one of several proactive initiatives that have been implemented at the high school to promote a safe school environment. The team recently performed a mock mediation session in which two students who were on the verge of getting into a conflict were asked if they would like to figure out a way to resolve the problem without fighting.
Richard Cheung, spokesperson for the team, explained the purpose of peer mediation and its goal.
"We want to promote school safety and strive for a friendlier school environment," Cheung said. "In order to achieve these goals, the peer mediation team helps students relive any interpersonal conflicts and tensions."
Cheung said the aim of the mediation team is to allow students to create their own solutions to which they will adhere.
"A mediators job is to keep the peace and guide both conflicting students towards a fair and suitable solution," Cheung said.
Students can request a mediator by approaching a teacher, an administrator, or talking to the mediators themselves. All mediation sessions are strictly confidential so students can feel assured that the trust they put in their mediators will not be broken.
"This provides students with a place to work out problems with only peers present, as opposed to faculty members who can sometimes seem intimidating and authoritative," Cheung said.
After the incident was resolved, students and mediators signed a written contract of the agreement and ended the session with a handshake.
Assistant Principal Roosevelt Wilson said the program has worked – noting the number of fights on campus two years ago went from 28 in 2000 to only 5 in 2001.
Mediators are nominated by teachers and undergo training sessions during the summer. Tune-up training is provided throughout the school year to keep the mediators refreshed and ready to help at a moment's notice.
The following students were selected as peer mediators for the 2002-2003 school year: Kristen Ashcraft, Allyson Collins, Elizabeth Fursdon, Shayla Gibson, Leah Graham, Lyn Hicks, Nateah Joyner, Lyzz Lakso, Bianca McKelvy, Abby Moeller, Kathleen Reagan, John Roberts, Richard Cheung, Kenneth Jackson and Bernard Russell.

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