Making good choices, the consequences of choices, being your own person – all things that middle school and high school students hear on a revolving basis from teachers and parents.
The Seven Project is another avenue to help get the message through, but in an exciting, entertaining, teen-friendly way.
All students from Skyview Middle School and Liberty Point International came together at Pueblo West High School for The Seven Project presentation on Dec. 12. Later that day, the entire Pueblo West High School student body had its own Seven Project presentation.
The Seven Project is a school assembly that is customized, with multimedia involvement, for schools throughout America. Seven topics are presented to students through guest speakers, videos, live music, lights and more. The national program works locally with schools and communities to decide the most important topics for those students.
“It was very entertaining and interesting,” said Brian Dilka, principal at Liberty Point International.
“There was a band playing live music, a lot of pop songs that the kids loved, and it was very high-energy.”
The high school was the only place large enough to hold all 1,100 middle school students in one place, and Dilka noted the logistics and teamwork between all three schools was great in getting it done.
Bob DiPietro, Principal at Skyview Middle School, said he was impressed with all of the middle schoolers’ behavior at the assembly.
“Of course they were singing and clapping with the music, and then when the speakers were talking, that was 1,100 kids that were very quiet and attentive,” DiPietro said.
The overall theme for both presentations was “choices” – about making good choices for a variety of topics including academics, drugs and alcohol, suicide, bullying and more. Guest speakers – some local – talked specifically about choices in their own lives or those of friends to help students see a real-life connection to the topic.
“There were some choices that took people down the path of no return, and that’s huge in middle school,” Dilka said. “A lot of kids don’t necessarily know why they’ve made choices, other than to go along with the crowd.”
DiPietro said one of the things he liked best was “hitting the pause button” when making a big choice in life.
“Step back and hit the pause button. Think about something, and what it will look like afterward. You have a lot of choices, and you need to look at the picture after, not just what you’re doing in the moment,” DiPietro said. “I thought that was a huge thing, a powerful message.”
Dilka noted that presenters in the assembly used several analogies, and his favorite was that a group of friends are like an umbrella. They should stand to deflect criticism, bullies, negative words and actions and more, just as an umbrella shields the user.
Students appeared to relate to the Seven Project, talking about it after, or being emotional during the presentation, particularly, Dilka said, during discussions of suicide.
Martha Nogare, principal at Pueblo West high School, called it a good “character” assembly that addressed a lot of topics relevant to all middle and high school students. She said she believes many took the message to heart, especially coming in a different form than normal.
“They hear these messages daily from the adults they see, and I think a lot of it goes in one ear and out the other,” DiPietro said. “But when you go to a neutral place and see another school there, and you see those kids having the same reactions as you … with the band playing and the video clips and everything, it was a different and good way of getting the point across.
“Even if we can stop just one major event from occurring, this assembly is a success.”
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