MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Local News

January 17, 2013

Hilldale programs noticed

Middle school’s peer mediation is a factor

— Two Hilldale Middle School students confront each other after one is caught copying from the other.

Two other classmates seek to ease this confrontation and come up with a solution.

The students, involved in role playing, show how peer mediation works to help stop bullying at the school, Hilldale counselor Tracy Fenton said.

Programs such as peer mediation helped Hilldale Middle School earn classification as an Honorable Mention School of Character. The award is presented by the Character Council of Central Oklahoma, which is dedicated to promoting good character development.

Hilldale learned of the award  last week, Fenton said.

“It is certainly an honor. I am proud of what we do to make Hilldale a great school,” she said.

The Character Council is an education partnership that is “there to support the school,” she said.

In presenting the certificate, council representatives talked about areas of strength and areas to improve in the school’s character program, she said.

“We could be more clear in our character values,” Fenton said. “As we identify our core values, we can look at honesty, respect, fairness, responsibility, compassion and citizenship. We could be more specific about our core values.”

Peer mediation is one of several programs Hilldale Middle School uses to build character and curb bullying. In peer mediation, students who are involved in a conflict are sent to a pair of student “mediators” who guide the students through the conflict.

In the role-playing, peer mediator Josie Dotson asked Hope Parker, who was accused of copying, how she would feel if someone had copied her work.

“Mad,” Hope replied.

Mediator Kenzie Kirkhart asked the accuser, Mattie Hurlburt, how she would feel if she were accused of copying.

“Guilty,” Mattie said.

The mediators encouraged the girls to solve the confrontation by talking it out.

“Peer mediation helps kids learn how to remove bullying from the school,” Hope said.

“It helps remove school problems and conflicts,” classmate Gabriel Gray said.

“And you learn communication skills,” Alex McBrien added.

Fenton said students also are encouraged to sign a “No Taunting Pledge” each year.  Veterans Day activities also could be a character program, she said.

Fenton said she had applied to have the peer mediation program recognized as a Promising Practice by the Character Education Partnership. A Promising Practice shows how a school demonstrates one of the Partnership’s 11 Principles of Effective Character Education. Such principles include creating a caring community and providing students with “opportunities for moral action.”

Reach Cathy Spaulding at (918) 684-2928 or cspaulding@muskogeephoenix.com.

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