The stories below are about real kids in the SAVE programs but the names and faces are changed.
Name: Alexis Hall Program: SAVESNet @ South Grade: 12 (2010-2011 School Year)
an active third year member of SAVESNet at South. She is a senior now
looking forward to her graduation day. Alexis is also one of our REAL
TALK authors. She says that SAVESNet has been a very positive group to
be a part. Alexis shared that her anger and attitude used to keep her
suspended during her freshman and sophomore year. She admits that she
knew that she needed to make a change. Joining SAVESNet helped Alexis do
just that. She learned communication skills, goal setting and was able
to deal with conflict better. She also learned how to be a peacemaker in
her school. Alexis is very proud to be a SAVESNet member and looks
forward to more leadership opportunities as she continues to be a
positive role model for her peers. Alexis believes that change is
possible when you are willing to do what it takes to make the changes so
you can live a more meaningful peace-filled life. We are very proud of her and the progress she has
Aasia was a 15 year female that found herself spending most
of the first nine week grading period of ninth grade in the Assistant Principal’s office. Everyday there was conflict and drama with
fellow classmates. Being more concerned
with the negative attention she was receiving, her grades suffered. At the end of the first grading period Aasia
she had a 1.5 GAP including two F's.
Aasia's family knew about the SAVESNet program, so Aasia was
expected to participate plus her siblings were already members. This did not prevent Aasia however, from
getting mixed up with the wrong people. Although
she regularly attended SAVESNet meetings she was bringing her drama with her. Mr. Martin, the SAVESNet Coordinator, let her
know that this was not how SAVESNet members spent their time and energy. Aasia was then bothered by the fact that Mr.
Martin did not select her for the fall SAVESNet Leadership Development activity
because she did not have a 2.0 GPA and lacked the social maturity to
participate. She told Mr. Martin that
she was going to do better. Mr. Martin
told Aaisa that he is at the school everyday and that she could come talk to
him anytime she had a problem. Aasia
began to seek out Mr. Martin three to four times a week with particular issues
or just to talk. Mr. Martin discerned
quickly that Aasia was a young person that wanted attention. Mr. Martin checked
with her everyday to make sure she was doing her work and was handling conflict
in a positive manner. In addition Mr. Martin
began giving her more responsibility in SAVESNet which she accepted. At the end of the second
nine week grading period Assia had a 2.5 GPA and no F's. Trips to the Assistant Principal’s all but stopped
and she is now a regular participant in the SAVESNet community service project,
tutoring elementary school students.
Lynelle came to school, the first day of the
new year. She knew the school dress code
but wore a pair of flip flops her mother had bought for her anyway. During the school day, the teachers and
school administration, warned her that she was violating the dress code and to
not wear the flip flips again the next day.
Lynelle heard what they said but showed up the next day to school with
her flip flops. It seemed Lynelle was just being a rebellious teen. A more
stern warning followed from the school administration with an added threat of
suspension if she wore the flip flops again.
Lynelle got very anxious about the situation. Due to the trusting relationship the SAVESNet
Coordinator and Lynelle had created the prior school year, Mr. Martin when hearing
about Lynelle, approached her and got to the bottom of what was really
happening (and verified it with Lynelle's mother). The weekend before school started Lynelle and her mother
were home when gun shots rang out. Their
home was being riddle with bullets. In
the panic of the moment, Lynelle and her mother, grabbed what they could and
fled to a friend's house where they knew they could be safe. Lynelle had not grabbed any of her shoes for
school which was to begin in just a few days.
Her mother, with just the few dollars she had, bought Lynelle a pair of
flip flops until she could get the money to get Lynelle proper footwear.
After hearing the story, to ease Lynelle's embarrassment,
anxiety and anger, Mr. Martin and a few teachers chipped in the money to get
Lynelle a pair of proper shoes. Lynelle
avoided suspension and began to healing from the trauma of the violent
event. The SAVESNet program is there for students 100% of the time
and the students are 100% the focus. The
SAVESNet Coordinator is at the school full-time, to help in crisis as well as
assist in the longer-term healing and growing process when the challenges of
living in a poor and crime ridden neighborhood effect students education and
lives. To this day, Lynelle remains in
school, maintains a 3.8 GPA and is an active member of SAVESNet.
Derek was in 9th grade and already off to a bad start in high school. He had
allowed himself to fall into hanging out with a negative group of older
peers. Derek was asked to leave two SAVESNet meetings due to continuous
disruptions. Seeing potential in Derek the SAVESNet coordinator worked to engage Derek and soon had developed as a mentor for him. Instead of Derek just sitting in the SAVESNet meetings the coordinator made
sure he had something for Derek to do which made him participate and
stay involved. Derek showed steady improvement in his grades and behavior
while his participation in SAVESNet increased. His willingness to take
on new challenges and leadership roles had grown each nine weeks. Slowly
Derek started hanging out with more SAVESNet kids and less with the
negative group of peers he hung out with at the beginning of the school year. Derek eventualy was honored with the SAVESNet member of the nine weeks.
Monique's inconsistent participation in SAVESNet was a symptom of the
inconsistency in her life. An unstable living situation and
drug addicted father, Monique dealt with victimization issues that led
her to smoking and drinking. After a junior year marred with absences
and grade card with multiple F’s, she was no longer on track to graduate the following
year. Although she admitted she felt like giving up, she didn’t,
and took summer school course and credit recovery while working full
time to become a senior. She said " I kept thinking to myself
RESILIENCE Mr. Martin (SAVESNet Coordinator) always said have a positive
response to negative situation". This was something she had learned
while taking Resiliency Training through the SAVESNet program. On June 5,
2010 she graduated and will be enrolling in college in the fall.
Gloria was a middle school student with a huge personality and had a way of making you feel better just by offering her presence. She was a decent student and had relatively good attendance, but during SAVESNet meetings she got quickly offended by the slightest transgressions – even those unintended for her. During a meeting, Gloria had an enormous meltdown because she thought that another student was angry at her. It took quite a while for Gloria to express herself using “I messages.” She slowly began to listen to the student with whom she was having the altercation and moved towards a resolution. After months of feedback and support from her peers in the group, Gloria was able to do a better job expressing her emotions in a constructive way and deescalating her anger.
Antonio was a 14 year old freshman that had been labeled gifted and talented but worked well below his capabilities. Upon meeting him you realize that he lacked confidence and self-esteem. Seldom did he interact with other students. He cared little about his personal appearance and was unconcerned about handling his responsibilities as a student and SAVESNet member. After trying out and making the SAVESNet performance team, Antonio’s confidence grew, but his grades still suffered. The SAVESNet coordinator became a mentor that Antonio trusted and someone who consistently demanded more of him as a student and young man. Antonio became a committed SAVESNet member, his grades improved each grading period, teachers noticing his marked improvement. Antonio now interacts with many SAVESNet members daily, clearly feeling better about himself as a young man. He went on to win SAVESNet member of the Year, establishing himself as a future leader of SAVESNet and the school.
Mike was a middle school student who was very disruptive to the SAVESNet group. He would often leave in the middle of group without permission. He would bully other boys in the group and he and the girls in the group would “clash” daily. The SVESNEt Program Coordinator would meet with Mike privately and explain why his behavior was unacceptable. Mike would apologize and promise to behave during the next meeting. This pattern reoccurred until Mike was asked not to return to the group. During the course of time outside of the group, the other SAVESNet members were invited on a field trip. Mike asked the Coordinator if he could accompany the group on the field trip to which she replied that his inability or unwillingness to follow the rules would keep him from going on the trip but that she wanted him to return if he could behave and cooperate with his fellow SAVESNet members. By the end of the school year, Mike was a completely different student and SAVESNet member. When given responsibility, he handled tasks efficiently and pleasantly. He took great initiative in the group, accomplishing things that he sensed needed to be done. When the Coordinator saw him in the hallways between classes, he became quite animated and thrilled to share the happenings of his day. This was a complete turnaround from the child who barely spoke and never made eye contact unless he was menacing others.
Isaac was a very shy and quiet 6th grade student who turned red at the suggestion of being an actor in a conflict resolution-themed video for the SAVE Awards. He was no stranger to conflict. Not as tall as others his age, Isaac constantly fought with “short” jokes and felt that people were always judging him from the outside. Getting picked on at school and in his group was a normal experience for Isaac. Though he was not sure if he wanted anything to do with the SAVE Awards Youth Peacemakers Training Program, Isaac agreed to attend the Youth Peacemakers Training Day. The training is where Isaac learned the T.A.G. strategy and it gave him confidence to stand up for himself and tools to use in situations of conflict. Amazingly, the group advisor convinced Isaac that he would be awesome in the video performance and Isaac finally agreed to the role. Over the course of just five months, the entire group witnessed Isaac come to mature - from a quiet, timid, little boy to a strong, confident and outspoken young man. The quiet kid who used to be the target of insults after insults to the point of sadness and tears, had stopped letting his peers get the best of him and stood up for himself without fear. For every insult, it seemed Isaac had a positive remark to make that left his verbal attackers speechless. Isaac hopes that the video would help others who face problems learn that sometimes enemies can be made into friends. Isaac believed his SAVE Awards performance could help stop violence. He also wished his experience in the SAVE Awards never ended.
Sherri was a junior that has participated in SAVESNet for the past three years but has dealt with a family plagued by drug addiction most of her life. Sherri felt she carried the weight of the world on her shoulders. Sherri had been taking care of her three younger siblings for several years by the time she reached ninth grade due to her mother’s drug addiction. The lack of stability at home showed with inconsistent grades, attendance and participation in SAVESNet. She wanted to be more involved in school activities and SAVESNet but trying to make sure food was in the house and homework was getting done, did not allow for these opportunities. Despite these obstacles, Sherri continued to come to SAVESNet and made friends she grew to trust. The Coordinator always let Sherri know when a resilience lesson was coming up or an inspirational speaker was on the calendar because she was always receptive to encouraging words. The Coordinator worked closely with the family to get Sherri to more activities. Although her grades are average with slightly improved attendance, they are better, and so is her spirit. Sherri is always thankful for the SAVESNet Coordinator’s support even though her struggles at home are not over.
Jacob was 11 and much taller and bigger than his classmates. He was very diligent about coming to the SAVESNet meetings, so the Coordinator got to know him very well. He was very loud and disruptive during meetings and because of this he was picked on a lot by other students. When he did not get his way he would lose his temper. After many lessons and discussions with the Coordinator and SAVESNet members about self discipline and respect, he began to make adjustments in his behavior. After several months he became one of the most improved students in the group. He proved that he was listening and applying the principles that he learned in SAVESNet. There were many times when he would say something inappropriate and he would quickly correct himself and say “that was rude wasn’t it” Then he would say” I apologize.” By the end of the school year he was very pleasant to be around.
New cell phone technology opened up a brand new world for Janae, an 8th grade student. She was able to text friends in and out of her school. It seemed to bridge a gap in Janae’s world, but also introduced her and other students at her school to and unwelcomed invitation to threats of fights from students in other schools. Texting only brought on drama for Janae as she and her friends got into deep trouble as insults and put-downs surged across the school. Word got around that anyone involved in the SAVE Awards Youth Peacemakers Training Program would not be able to participate if they were sending text threats. Janae had never been involved in the SAVE Awards, but decided to join the group instead of joining in with the wrong crowd. Her school’s SAVE Awards advisors talked about a project that would bring the students back together to focus on peace and Janae was excited about it. After a positive technical visit from the SAVE Awards Coordinator, Janae hyped up the group by shouting “I’m going to Hollywood!” , when she discovered their video idea would be accepted into the 2009 SAVE Awards. In addition to their video performance, Janae and her classmates held a mock “funeral” for put-downs, designed a school wall mural and created tactile posters that encouraged peace for their entire school to experience. Janae and her classmates also mentored younger students and led a Peace Celebration fully equipped with a steel drum player and a nonviolent skit performed by students. When asked about her experience with SAVE, Janae says that she believes SAVE helped her be a better person and realize that drama isn’t everything.