Creating a Better Wilde Lake is Up To Us

Students playing cards in Ms. Sweitzer’s advisory (Greta Giuliano )

Every day, I see kids breaking the rules. Whether it’s skipping class, leaving campus for lunch, or any of the other rules for our safety and education, people are breaking them every day. 

We are fortunate to use many innovative approaches to dealing with student behavior. These include the reintroduction of Advisory, the Peace, Green, and Gold rooms, and conflict resolution that seeks to build relationships between students and administration — restorative justice. 

However, I believe that students continue to abuse these systems by taking them for granted. There is always reasoning behind putting these things in place, and by abusing them, we are not helping them achieve their purpose, which is to create a peaceful atmosphere.

Advisory, a 20-minute block between second and third period, was put in place to give us a break between classes and build better relationships with our teachers, according to Advisory board member and Social Studies teacher Ms. Pennington. 

She says that Advisory is a place where students will “be able to create relationships with their advisors so they can go to that adult before bad decisions are made.” 

Despite Advisory’s sound purpose, every day, students use this time to roam the halls, hang out with friends in the hallway, and in extreme cases, as seen throughout the year, physically fight with each other. 

This undermines the entire purpose of Advisory and lessens its intended effectiveness. During my Advisory, I have noticed that people not assigned to my group come in and out and stay there for multiple days. It seems like Advisory has practically become a free period. 

Granted, that is what it is to some extent, but the intent of Advisory is to create relationships with teachers. We cannot make meaningful relationships by roaming the halls and constantly switching advisories. Ms. Pennington hypothesizes that if students were held accountable for their attendance during Advisory, discipline problems would significantly decrease, and I would have to agree.

Another system unique to Wilde Lake are the Peace, Green, and Gold rooms — specific rooms set aside for students to visit during the school day, and much like Advisory, people have been misusing these rooms. They have turned into hangout spots for them and their friends.

Ms. Wright, the teacher in charge of the Peace Room, describes it as “a space for creating community, fostering a sense of safety and belonging, and equipping students to succeed academically” and “essential to many students.” She explains that students will come to the Peace room for any number of reasons: students in crisis, working on school work, or just needing someone to talk to.

When I went to the Peace Room, I noticed that there was quite a lot of talking for a space that is meant to be peaceful. I realize that some students come here with their friends to take a break together, but other students come to relax and recharge, which can be fairly difficult when other people are there to socialize.

As a school, I feel like we are taking all these things being offered to us for granted. Things like Advisory and the Peace Room are here to help us, but they are still a privilege. We need to show our appreciation to the staff by acting maturely. 

We have already gotten a taste of what it feels like for these things to be taken away. A few weeks back, when Advisory got shut down because of fights, that was just a preview of what could happen if we do not respect these spaces for our benefit.

To ensure this does not happen, we need to change our mindset.

We need to be a part of the solution by helping to create an environment in which conflict is dealt with peacefully, and while that started with the teachers, it is our job now. It is time for us to start taking accountability for our actions. 

We need to start realizing that our teachers are not out to get us. One of the most effective ways to build a relationship with your teacher is simply talking to them. If you show your teacher that you are making an effort, they are more likely to give you the benefit of the doubt and can act as a mentor if you are having a hard time.

I have experienced firsthand that students are more likely to listen to teachers with whom they have a good relationship, so if we focused a little more on building relationships with our teachers, like using the time in Advisory wisely, we might understand their point of view more.

This school year has been hard enough on its own, and what we need right now is to unite and support each other. School is supposed to be a safe, supportive place that offers many opportunities, and if we do not use and respect them, we are just hurting ourselves. 

Everyone is having a hard time, so why make it harder for anyone else?