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Galt high schools bank on anti-bullying program

Breaking Down the Walls workshops, assembly will come with $12,576 tag

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Posted: Tuesday, October 11, 2011 12:00 am | Updated: 6:59 am, Tue Oct 11, 2011.

Galt Joint Union High School District administrators want to create campuses without cliques, where everyone can get along. To this end, they will ask for approval at tonight’s meeting to spend $12,576 to host a motivational speaker at both high schools at the end of the month.

The team-building effort is partly in response to a spike in fights at Galt High School this school year and administrators’ desire to create a positive campus atmosphere there.

The school’s Associated Student Body leadership team voted to pay a portion of the funding to hold the assembly. Because of the cost threshold, the item must be voted on by the school board.

If approved, Stu Cabe, of Breaking Down the Walls, will host an assembly as well as provide workshops for teachers and student leaders to learn how to deal with adolescent issues. This includes addressing social and cultural differences among teens and ways to break down those barriers.

Through the program, students will participate in team-building activities to get to know one another and what they may be going through.

The program has won acclaim in shattered communities looking to rebuild after tragedies such as the Columbine High School shooting.

Cabe, who lives in Littleton, Colo., works with a California-based company to bring life issues to teenagers. Learning for Living established the workshops in 1992 and now provides community-building programs for schools across the U.S. and in Canada.

Cabe’s company, Standing Up For What is Good, empowers students to take active roles in their campus communities to change the climate, according to his website.

Albeit in a different capacity, Cabe trained student leaders at Lincoln High School in Stockton, and led a ninth-grade Link Crew orientation there this summer. The Link Crew program links upperclassmen with incoming freshmen to make the high school transition smoother.

“He is an amazing group leader. His energy level is high and compelling,” Debbi Holmerud, Lincoln High’s principal, said of Cabe.

“You just can’t not participate when he is leading an activity. He reads individuals and groups amazingly well, and is able to adjust the pace of what he is doing based on what he is reading of his audience.”

Liberty Ranch High School hosted a Breaking Down the Walls event in February 2010. It gave students an opportunity to talk to peers they normally wouldn’t interact with.

Principal Brian Deis credits the presentation with a decrease in student discipline issues.

The Breaking Down the Walls assembly and subsequent workshops also received positive response from parents who phoned Deis thanking them for the outreach effort, he said at the time.

This year’s presentation will include similar workshops for 350 freshmen and sophomores. If approved by the school board, the $5,588 contract will be paid for with lottery funds.

At Galt High, the cost will be split between the Associated Student Body account and the school’s general fund. The cost is slightly higher, as Cabe will also host an assembly and train student leaders.

Administrators there called an impromptu public safety meeting last month to discuss the increase in campus fights. At the time, Galt High principal Maria Orr said staff is working to make the campus safer and to let students know a right to be safe and comfortable at school.

She believes most of the altercations are between freshmen whose difficulties with each other that go back to middle school. If these issues are not resolved, they become compounded when students get to high school, Orr said last month.

Contact reporter Jennifer Bonnett at jenniferb@lodinews.com.

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