Two years ago, administrators at Episcopal High School in Bellaire felt they had to make a change. They needed to do something about the increase in high risk behaviors they were seeing. And so they started the Choices program. Kim Randolph is one of the Deans. He says learning about the behaviors is part of the school’s curriculum.
“We talk about how to refuse. We talk about the symptoms of addictions; we talk about signs that you can see in your fellow students and your peers that there might be a problem and then how to deal with that. How to confront them if you need to confront them.“
But its not just about addictions. They discuss things like bullying and abusive behaviors like cutting. And for two weeks out of the year students focus entirely on these issues while the seniors are on outreach missions. Randolph says one of the keys, is getting parents involved.
“Our emphasis has always been to get parents and children to talk about these issues at the dinner table.“
The program is called choices but Randolph knows students don’t always make the right ones. That’s why getting the parents involved can help prevent problems before they occur… like parties where alcohol or drugs might be available.
“If there’s a party nearby then everybody finds out about that party and knows whats happening at the party so they can monitor it much better.“
This will be the second full year the Choices program has been in place. They’ve done numerous surveys with the students and assuming the students are telling the truth, it appears the program is working.
“We feel good about that and… but we’re not overly excited about it because we know it’s going to take three or four years, five years of data plus third party analysis to really decide whether or not we’re having the kind of impact that we want.“
On its website the schools says its mission is to provide an opportunity for students to reach their full potential. If they can reduce or eliminate students’ high risk behaviors, administrators believe fulfilling that mission will be a little easier.
Bill Stamps, KUHF News.