Students are going to have a hard time learning if they’re not given opportunities to help them face social and emotional barriers, said local teacher and administrator Jason Miller.
La Salle-Peru Township High School teachers and administrators focus on academics, and they want to make sure that their students get every opportunity to succeed.
This year, L-P leaders brought back an opportunity to help students feel safe, loved and celebrated. The school participated during the last week in January.
Jason Miller, Activities Director at L-P and special education teacher, has been one of the individuals planning Challenge Day since late August.
This year, the event was offered to every sophomore (about 250 sophomores participated this year), and about a total of 60 upperclassmen participated as well as team leaders.
The event is designed to break down barriers for students and raises their self-esteem.
L-P hired the nonprofit Challenge Day for the activities.
The mission is to provide “youth and their communities with experiential programs that demonstrate the possibility of love and connection through the celebration of diversity, truth and full expression,” according to Challenge Day’s website.
The students, as well as some teachers and community members, participate in various activities, such as “Cross the Line,” where students are asked questions like, “Have you or anyone you know experienced racism?” and if so, the students cross the line.
The activities give students, teachers and community members a sense of awareness as to what others are experiencing.
The feedback has been “fantastic,” Miller said. Challenge Day ran Tuesday-Thursday during the last week of January (about 100 kids participated each day), and he’s had juniors and seniors approach him to say they’re sad that their class didn’t get to experience the activities.
He’s had many freshmen approach him to ask if Challenge Day will be around for them, to which his response has been “I sure hope so.”
Sophomores have given him feedback as well to say they want to be team leaders next year as well.
Challenge Day offered an opportunity for kids to make connections with one another as well as allowing adults to make connections with the students.
Miller participated in the activities the whole day on Thursday and said the most valuable thing he learned was that “everyone can be kind, and a simple smile and ‘How are you doing’ can make a big difference in one person’s day, because we truly don’t know what our students are going through.”
L-P offered Challenge From 2009-2014, L-P offered Challenge Day to every sophomore class.
Miller said he hopes it comes back next year, too.
Ali Braboy can be reached at (815) 220-6931 and firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @NT_LaSalle.