On Monday, May 20, the Middle School thanks to funds raised during the Run-A-Thon, was able to participate in a full day of social-emotional learning called Challenge Day. The day began with a number of ice-breakers to get everyone moving and to make sure everyone was comfortable. Part of the activity was finding several different people to hug, which was very popular with all.
Eventually, the whole middle school was broken into small groups of five or six students per adult. The day included not only teachers but other adult members of the community, including parents, admin staff and Challenge Day leaders. After Challenge Day leaders shared their personal stories and challenges, each small group member did the same in their group. Through this activity, called, “If you really, really knew me”, students and community members had the opportunity to get to know each other in a way that school rarely affords. Students and adults felt empowered to tell their own stories after hearing the stories of the Challenge Day Leaders.
Another activity later in the day was called “Crossing the Line”. For this activity, the Challenge Day leaders made a number of statements, such as, “Cross the line if you sometimes have low self-confidence,” or “Cross the line if sometimes you feel lonely,” to “Cross the line if anyone has experienced the effects of drug addiction in their family.” There was great power in seeing friends and teachers crossing the line and receiving the support of those who did not.
There was throughout the day emphasis on rejecting labels and stereotypes and recognizing that each person is an individual with their own goals and perspectives. Tears flowed from a number of students as they shared the pressures that being a “good student” or fitting in or feeling that they had to be perfect.
Challenge Day raised a number of issues, but more than anything, it planted seeds. The message all students received is that if we really knew what each person was going through, we would treat each other better. It gave everyone the chance to tell their stories and to hear other person’s stories, and most importantly, doing both without judgment.