Hate bullying and the negative impact it has on Highland students? There’s something you can do.
Last year, Highland students all gathered in the large gym for a Rachel’s Challenge presentation. This year, the district is once again hosting an affiliated anti-bullying program called Chain Reaction at Highland. The event will take place on November 14, 2016. The counseling department currently seeking 100 student participants and 20 adult volunteers. Ideal candidates are students who are already leaders among their groups. Interested? Email Highland High School counselor Rika Moya at email@example.com for more information.
Chain Reaction is “related to Rachel’s Challenge, but it’s different,” says Head Counselor Ms. Moya. “This is not an assembly; it is interactive training with 80-100 students and 20 adults and they will talk about bullying, peer pressure, drugs and more to help make our campus a more positive place and by having students in this training it will cause a ‘chain reaction’ and spread positivity.”
When the presentation occurred last year, Rachel’s Challenge raised more than awareness about bullying. It raised concerns about religious beliefs being taught in a public high school, due in part to the fact that the program’s presenters claimed that Rachel, the namesake of the program, and one of the victims of the Columbine high school shooting in 1999, saw her own death. Some parts of the presentation seemed to promote Christian beliefs, including religious premonitions, angels and the concept of heaven. It is generally inappropriate for public education to teach specific religious beliefs during required educational courses and events.
Ms. Moya assures students that “this program [Chain Reaction] is not religious at all” and she is aware of the concerns people had last year but she believes that, “the assembly was just showing who she [Rachel] was and what she believed in and any religious content is not the overall theme of these programs. It is to do kindness to people and be sympathetic.”
The school hasn’t disclosed how much money this program will cost the school, and Ms. Moya says it’s being provided by the district, but Highland is one of four high schools in the Antelope Valley that will be running this program for a second year. AVUHSD has eight comprehensive high schools.
According to the press release, with this training, school officials hope to help participants understand their personal identity, power, and uniqueness. Students will learn that they are not personally defined by their circumstances or experiences. Barriers among the participants are broken down by the realization that through these shared experiences they are not alone. This program claims to successfully address the issues of violence, teasing, social oppression, racism, harassment, conflict management, suicide , peer pressure, alcohol and drugs that plague large, modern high schools.
More information is available online at rachelschallenge.org.