We’ve increased programming for the 2015-2016 school year, and there’s still room for more growth.
Vinton Middle School: Health Teacher Sara Hennemen was promoted to Middle School Principal this year. The school has hired Walt Weiland as her replacement. They’ve also changed the schedule for when students receive Health Classes. In previous years, students took Health for 6 weeks in each of 6th, 7th, and 8th grades. Our program developed a set of lessons in collaboration with Mrs. Hennemen and was able to deliver four lessons each year, for a total of 12 workshops building on each other from year to year. 6Th grad lessons focused on consent and how a healthy relationship should look and feel. 7Th grade lessons reviewed 6th grade material and added conflict resolution skills taught through the Safe Dates evidence based curriculum. 8Th grade lessons reviewed material from the previous two years and looked at the epidemic levels of violence against women in United States, rape culture, and how to combat it using bystander intervention.
Evidence collected via our pre test showed that students scored lowest on questions related to attitudes and beliefs supporting victim blaming, so we made slight alterations to our lesson plans in order to provide plenty of repetition of messages meant to reduce victim blaming. These then became the areas that we saw the greatest growth in students on their post tests. Data collected also showed information about consent was retained by 6th graders long enough to take the post test, but was not retained long enough to score high on the 7th grade pre test. However, the review that students received during the 7th grade lessons was enough for students to score well on questions related to consent on the pre test once they reached 8th grade, showing the importance of repetition and reinforcement of material over a period of time longer than the 6 weeks that they are taking health.
This year, students at Vinton Middle School will only take Health as 8th graders, but they will be with Mr. Weiland throughout the academic year. This year will mark 4th year our program has been in the VMS Health Classroom and our first with Mr. Weiland. We are scheduled to deliver our four 8th grade lessons in early December and to discuss ways to work all 12 lessons in in the future. Current ideas include spending more time with the 8th graders and working with 6th and 7th graders during their study hall periods.
Logan High School: We are pleased to announce that after last year’s year off, which was the result of a parent complaint regarding LGBT inclusion in our our healthy relationships lesson, we will be back in Aimee Fitch’s 9th grade Health Classroom in December. A meeting between our Program Coordinator and the school’s Superintendent and Principal was facilitated by Gretchen Greggory from Hocking County Victim’s Services over the summer, during which our Program Coordinator provided a demo of the lesson in question. Following the meeting, the Principal phoned Mrs. Fitch to grant her permission to have us back, and she emailed us right away to schedule our visit. We will provide three lesson to approximately 1,000 9th graders on sexual assault myths and facts, consent, healthy relationships, and bystander intervention. LHS students take Health for one semester in 9th grade, so we will see another 1,000 students during spring semester.
Trimble High School: The 2015-2016 school year marks the third year that People’s Justice League, formerly Hollaback Appalachian Ohio!, has enjoyed a pleasant relationship with THS Health Teacher, Phil Campbell. We developed a four lesson curriculum utilizing all three of our presenters unique specialties. Sarah Fick works with the class in a mixed gender setting around street harassment, its function in rape culture, reduction of victim blaming, and bystander intervention. On two or our four days, the class is split. The girls go to the gym to study assertive communication and physical self defense while the boys stay in the classroom with our new Healthy Masculinity Instructor, Richard Grippa, to discuss consent, flirting without harassing, and supporting survivors as well as how the media influences masculinity.
After this year’s workshops, we were invigorated, hearing of student activism around a school dress code that sexualizes female bodies. We told our students at Trimble about YAMS and discussed plans to either provide transportation to incorporate Trimble youth into our current YAMS group or start something similar in Trimble
Athens High School: Over the past year, we have attended one school board meeting and met with Superintendent Tom Gibbs and Principal David Hanning several times, as well as attended a meeting with the Health Teachers and School Nurses and representatives from OU Survivor Advocacy and the Child Advocacy Center. The administration was given our curriculum for review in February 2015 and has gathered input from our program and other community partners on their current health curriculum. They are in the process of reviewing their Health curriculum, which is slated to be available for public review in March of 2016.
In response to student suggestion, our program has proposed a week long series of life skills workshops for seniors that would be presented outside the health classroom but during school hours and would focus on healthy relationships, sexual assault myths and facts, consent, healthy masculinity, women’s self defense, and bystander intervention. We provided our proposed outline and lesson plans in early October. Dr. Gibbs has asked that we present the proposed workshops to a small team of administrators and counselors before he gives the okay. We are waiting to hear back about scheduling this presentation.
Additionally, we have proposed starting a Men of Strength Club at Athens High School that would meet during the school’s Academic Coaching period, a once weekly free class period where students have the option of using it as a study hall or as a time to meet with teachers or guidance counselors. All students are in Academic Coaching at the same time and would be able to attend the Men of Strength Club as an elective. MoSt Club is an evidence based curriculum created by an organization in Washington D.C. titled Men Can Stop Rape. We provided this curriculum for review along with all of our other materials in February 2015 and hired an AHS alumni, Richard Grippa, to run it. We are waiting to hear back from the administration on its approval.
In the mean time, we are serving Athens City Schools’ girls with two after school programs: Youth Against Misogyny and Sexism and Athens Rock Camp for Girls. Youth Against Misogyny and Sexism (YAMS) is a student led initiative started in October of 2014 by a group of AHS women. It is open to students of all genders from all Athens County School Districts. YAMS works to end misogyny and sexism in our area school through holding community events and workshops that influence cultural norms and addressing outdated school policies such as dress codes that sexualize female bodies. YAMS has met with Dr. Gibbs twice regarding the creation of a gender neutral dress code and other issues related to curriculum content.
Athens Rock Camp for Girls was approached by campers as well as staff from Arts West as well after this past summer’s camp and encouraged to start an after school program. Athens Rock Camp for Girls After School Program was started in August of 2015 and is held at Arts West each Monday from 3:30 to 5:30. It is open to girls and gender non-conforming and trans individuals ages 10-18. We are currently working to support the formation of one band as well as music lessons for several girls not yet in bands, and there is still room for more. This part of our programming is not currently funded and being run largely by volunteers. You can make a donation earmarked for this program to APJN by writing “Girls Rock Camp” in the memo.
If you are interested in bringing our program into your classroom or community group, feel free to contact our Program Coordinator, Sarah Fick, any time at firstname.lastname@example.org.