Thursday, March 26, 2009

The PEERS Project

A club that I was really involved with in high school is The PEERS Project or more commonly known as PEERS. PEERS is an acronym for Peers Educating and Encouraging Relationship Skills. In this group we have Peers Educating Peers (PEP) sessions where we will go in and talk to 6th through 10th graders. What do we talk about? Abstinence. The group motto is "Abstain from sex to Attain your goals." However we also talk about other forms of abstinence. Abstinence from sex, drugs, alcohol, and other things which can have a negative influence on your life.

For the PEP sessions, we have a packet of information to go over. A lot of the packet would seem boring to the students, so we would just pick out a few main things and then use our own ideas to fill the rest of the time. Many times we will share with the class about situations that we have been in and mistakes that we have made hoping that this will open their eyes, so they can avoid these things. Sharing with them also breaks down a barrier, so they feel comfortable talking to us. If they are going through a similar situation to one of the stories shared, they can go to that person and get some advice.

One of our presentations opened the eyes of a 6th grade girl. After the presentation, she came up and asked what someone should do if they were being sexually abused. We told her that they should talk to someone about getting them removed from the situation. Later we found out that this was about her. She had been removed from her parents' home and put with her grandparents because she was receiving this abuse from her father. Now she was getting it from her grandfather too. Our presentation allowed her to talk to someone to get removed from this home too. She has recently been adopted by her loving foster parents and having a much better life.

Not only has PEERS had a positive effect on the students but also the community as a whole. Before the program started, our county was one of the highest in the state for teen pregnancies. Implementation of this group has dropped our numbers significantly. The state saw this change and wanted to know how we did it. They are now watching our program to see how other counties can also benefit from this program.

PEER mentors have to watch their actions in and out of the classroom. If you give a presentation to a class, and then some of the students see you later going against what you just said, you will lose all credibility with them. They will probably let their friends know about it too. We want to make sure that we keep that trust with the students because they are looking up to us whether we're doing good or bad.

The only way to stay out of trouble with the temptations of drugs, sex, and alcohol is to avoid it all together. Sex is something that should be saved for a marriage. Stay pure until then. I'd like to leave you with a quote that a couple of my friends came up with, and we later had it put on a t-shirt to wear for our presentations. "Purity rocks my socks off... but keeps my clothes on!"

You May Now Take the Floor in State Finals Competition

Indoor Percussion is a competitive group which takes place in the winter. It is similar to marching band except it is just the percussion section. I got to participate in this group one year in high school and really enjoyed it. We ended up getting 4th place at state that year. My brother is now involved in the group, and he also likes it. I was excited when I saw that both the state prelims and state finals were during my spring break. This way, I was able to see him perform in his competition.

The morning of state prelims, I got up to get ready and felt really awful, so I decided not to go. I was pretty disappointed because I really wanted to go to this, but I knew that I wouldn't be able to handle going. I ended up going to the doctor so that I could go see him if they made it to state finals, which they did!

My dad was going to go with us to state finals, but he had to work that day. It ended up just being my mom, grandma, sister, and I who went to cheer on my brother. I had heard about their show, but I had not seen it yet. Now it was time for their last performance of the season. I couldn't wait to see what the show was going to be like.

The name of their show is Modern Times. For props, they had a giant switch and electrical outlet which had a plug going into it. To start off the show, they flipped the switch on. This gave them the energy to perform. Throughout the show, they had a girl who would jokingly turn the switch on and off to give them/take away their energy.

Halfway through the show, they yelled at this girl because everyone ran out of "energy." She then pointed to the switch to show them that she had not done anything. The pit section then had to play in order to recharge the drumline which had completely stopped played and fallen to the ground.

They all got recharged back to their high energy levels in order to finish off the show with high excitement. To end the show, they pulled the plug and dropped it to the ground to cut off all the energy supply. The crowd then cheered to show their appreciation of the performance and the performers.

Now we had to wait to go through the rest of the performances before awards. Luckily we were toward the end, so there weren't very many groups left to go. After the groups were done and the scores were calculated, it was time for all the groups to come back for an on-court retreat for awards.

The groups all lined up, and you could tell they were nervous. The places were announced in reverse order, so the longer they went without hearing their name, the better. Everyone wanted to be called last. One by one, they announced school names. We waited and waited to be called. In the end, they got 5th out of the 17 groups in their class. I thought that they had done really well and was proud of what they had accomplished. Of course, they thought they could have done better, but you will always have that.

I really enjoyed getting to go to state finals to see the different shows and support my brother. I wish I could have gone to prelims too, but at least I got to see his show once. Indoor Percussion will always be exciting to me since I actually got the opportunity to participate in it. I hope that my brother stays in it the next two years, so I will have a good excuse to go and watch these fun competitions.