January 23rd through the 26th at Bentonville High School the program “Breaking Down the Walls” was enacted in attempt to increase the culture in the school. On Monday the 23rd there was a school wide assembly explaining the program to all the students. The assembly introduced the school to the speaker and creator of it, Phil Boyte, and allowed everyone a glimpse into what the upcoming week would present.
Students were picked out by their teachers to be a part of the program throughout the week. Then those students were assigned a day to come into the main gym during the week. About 150 students each day gathered together and went through team bonding activities that were made to teach them to empathize with their peers and learn a better way to interact with all the people we see everyday.
“I think it will be really effective in promoting student interaction,” Mrs. Woody said. Mrs. Woody got to supervise one day of the program and witness the impact that it had on students.
Boyte led games for the students every day where they got to interact with their peers and get to know more about them then they ever would otherwise. They did an activity where you’d cross the line if what was said applied to you. He’d ask “cross the line if” and then give examples of different situations such as: have divorced parents, a family member with cancer, have had a pet that passed away, etc then students would cross the line, if they were comfortable with it. This exercise revealed information about the students you sit next to in class or pass in the halls, information that you can connect with each other on. This eye-opening program is used so students can discover things they would never know about others and see how much they have in common with them. Who knows if we would see this about others without this program.
“I definitely believe that the program helped not only connect me to some of my peers but also helped me realize how little effort it takes in a day to make BHS feel more like a community,” Senior Hannah Blackmon said referring to her experience in the program. “I believe that students at least have a better sense of compassion for those whose story they don’t know and learning not to judge someone because of how they look since you don’t know what’s happening in their lives.”
The goal of “Breaking Down the Walls” is to make it where students can find common ground and maybe even make a friend by having that connection. So when you see a peer in the hall you smile or have a conversation with that kid you sit next to in math class. The entire program is designed to help us to be intentional in being kind to others and growing with the people we see everyday. Now that Bentonville High School has experienced this program it is time to see if it makes any difference in how everyone treats each other in our little community.
For more information visit their website at http://learningforliving.com/breaking-down-the-walls/