CS Middle Schoolers attend Prejudice Awareness Summit
Mental Health, inclusivity and combating intolerance are all top priorities at Community School. Our guiding rule called the Big One encourages our community to respect each other, take responsibility for our actions, and create a welcoming space for everyone. In today’s world those lessons are more important than ever, so we were proud to participate in the Prejudice Awareness Summit conducted by the Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities. A group of 12 CS middle schoolers and teachers Karen Childers and Melanie Fox traveled to Lynchburg to participate in the summit with other Southwest Virginia schools. The PAS program teaches students to fight prejudice by taking them through a learning process from awareness to action. Our students learned how to recognize intolerance and prejudice and were taught conflict resolution skills for when they witness or encounter them. Our teachers also came away from the summit with valuable lessons. CS teacher Melanie Fox was quoted as saying, “In order to make them feel safe, we have to be aware of our kind of conditioned biases and institutional biases that can really affect how we treat our students and how our students treat one another.” To hear Melanie speak and learn more about the summit, you can tune in to WDBJ7’s coverage of the event. As part of their training students were also tasked with creating an action plan for how to share what they learned with their classmates. Our students developed an interactive game show concept called “Cool, Not Cool.” They plan to use the game show to help prepare upper elementary school students for middle school life and to arm them with the tools they need when they encounter challenging situations. Our hope is that the lessons learned from the summit will help our students and teachers exemplify the tenants of our “The Big One” rule on and off campus, and in turn, strengthen our students’ mental health and create a more inclusive and tolerant community.