Students learn to exchange respect School's workshop uses skits to address weighty ethics issues

September 20, 1998|By Kris Antonelli | Kris Antonelli,SUN STAFF

You see a friend stealing a compact disc: Do you tell on her? One of your classmates pushes you into a swimming pool: Does she deserve the same? Your best friend asks you to lie to her mother: What do you do?

About 300 Annapolis High School students acted out those weighty issues Friday at workshops they designed and participated in at Sandy Point State Park.

Since 1993, students have organized Team Days workshops and skits as a kind of spirit-boosting exercise, with an emphasis on learning to respect teachers, parents and each other.

"We started these workshops at a time when the school had a lot of problems with violence," said Principal Joyce Smith.

Five years ago, turf battles regularly erupted between students. Bitter fights and disagreements not resolved outside school were carried into classrooms.

In the beginning, the workshops dealt with how to stop and avoid violence. Smith said the violence has decreased, and the number of suspensions dropped from 58 in 1993 to 51 last school year. But that is still the most for a county high school.

"The focus of our workshops has changed," Smith said. "This year, it is respect. Respect and how to treat each other with respect is a big issue."

To learn respect, the students began their day performing impromptu skits. Groups were given an ethical dilemma and instructed to come up with the wrong solution and the right solution.

Jessica Gouff and Sierra Boone were assigned the issue of fighting. They portrayed friends having fun at a party -- until one pushes the other into a pool. Rehearsing, the students giggled and exaggerated. But in presenting the skit to their classmates, they made clear points.

Sierra pushes Jessica, Jessica pushes back and in a flash, the partygoers cheer for a fight.

"Oh, she pushed you. You're not gonna let her do that!" one student yells.

TTC "Yeah, push her, push her," another chimes in. A fight breaks out.

Senior Dionne Yates and junior Tishea Henson perform the skit again, with a different ending.

When Tishea pushes Dionne into the imaginary pool, Dionne gets out and walks away.

"It's not even worth it," Dionne says. "We are all trying to have a good time. Fighting does not solve the problem."

Another goal of the workshops was to get students, who come from diverse backgrounds, to meet and become friends. The students wore fringe balls made of red, blue, yellow or gray yarn, depending on what group they were assigned to. Between skits and workshops, students took a piece of yarn from each other's fringe balls and tied it to their own as a symbol of a friend made.

"If they meet each other now," said Steve Levy, the school's vice principal, "then they are more likely to help each other when they see each other in school."

Pub Date: 9/20/98

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