Breaking down walls at Bear River High School |

Breaking down walls at Bear River High School

Bear River High School students participated this week in "Breaking Down the Walls."
Submitted photo |

Bear River High School hosted Breaking Down the Walls — the school culture-building program created by Phil Boyte of Auburn — this week.

Breaking Down the Walls is a comprehensive program designed to unify, empower, and engage students to create a positive and supportive campus climate, so Principal Amy Besler was “thrilled to be able to include every single student,” according to a press release. Most schools are only able to have a small portion of their student body participate, which was the case two years ago when the school conducted this program. Students, teachers, administrators and parents strongly supported bringing the program back and worked diligently to include the entire school.

In preparation for this event, 85 student leaders spent part of their Sunday being trained to lead their peers this week.

“We love our students’ dedication and desire to benefit our school community in any way they can,” Besler said.

Alex Lerch, a senior and ASB representative, said they tried very hard to ensure that the leader group was as diverse as possible. For some, this was their first official leadership role. Lerch confessed that while he thought this was awesome, he “was a little nervous about the dynamic of the group, but all 85 leaders were there and were unbelievably engaged and respectful, I was very impressed.”

Each student in the school was assigned to participate on either Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday, and reported to McCrory Gymnasium right at 7:30 a.m. Along with a mix of 175 peers and staff members, they participated in a full day of fun, engaging activities that served to unite students and staff and break down the barriers between each other.

For junior Kaylee Guerra, the event “opened my eyes to what life is like for my peers.” She admitted that she “realized how many people I judged and criticized without knowing anything about them. This program literally breaks down walls and prejudices within the school and, in my opinion, creates a safer and more empathetic learning environment.”

“Above all, we learned we are not alone,” Lerch said. “Call it empathy or perspective, this new sense of being a part of something larger than oneself has the potential to break down the walls that stop us from being ourselves, meeting new people, and being the best person that we can be.”

When asked to reflect on how this program affected him personally, Lerch said he “left the program feeling unbelievably appreciative for all of the wonderful people in my life, and Bear River can be a place where we are comfortable being ourselves, where respect is no longer a privilege, but a right.”

Besler summed it up this way: “Breaking Down the Walls is by far one of the most powerful and rewarding program, especially for our students, I have ever experienced.”

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