MARSHALL - When you're dealing with certain issues in life, schoolwork can take a backseat. Marshall East Campus Learning Alternatives (MECLA) created a self-awareness class to help kids cope with their lives and do better in school.
The class is in its second year.
"In self-awareness class, we talk about different topics: stress, anger, problem-solving," said Kathy Pearson, a social worker at Marshall High School and MECLA.
Photo by Jodelle Greiner
Alissa Doom, left, shows Emily Hess a project she created for self-awareness class at MECLA. The class helps the students deal with issues they have in their lives so they can do better in school.
"We saw the need for students," said Jeremy Williams, assistant principal at MECLA. "We needed class time to devote to those issues."
Students can volunteer for the class or teachers can suggest they might benefit from it. Involvement is strictly voluntary because "you have to have the right mindset," said Jake Moravatz, one of the students.
"We try to hit skill areas," Pearson said. "A good portion is being able to talk to each other."
That's important, the kids agree.
"The class helped in anger problems I used to have, problems with school and getting in trouble," said Stephon Campbell. "I was able to talk about things I wouldn't normally talk about with other people."
"When I first came to class, I expected it to be a waste of time," said Moravatz. Things started slowly until the kids believed that what they said would be confidential. "I started sharing and understand everyone has issues. Bottling it up inside made it worse. I started going to class more and had someone to talk to every day; always had that option."
"For me, the class helped me deal with stress and only taking on my part of the pie," said Emily Hess.
"The class helped me learn how to cope in positive ways instead of negative," said Alissa Doom. "Better communication skills with peers and family, so I wouldn't have so much resentment towards others."
"The class helped me think about myself in a more positive way and boost my self-confidence," Hess said.
"I played the blame game," Moravatz said. "Then I realized the bad things may be a result of my own actions."
"It helped me learn about different people and backgrounds. Everyone has problems," said Bryan Harden, adding his favorite part is group discussion.
"Never judge anybody until you talk to them," said Harden.
"A lot of people are going through the same things you are, if you're willing to talk to them," Hess said.
"I really liked watching the class come together," said Moravatz. "You go into the class not knowing anyone. Different friends and different races and realize how similar our lives can actually be."
"Just developing the friendships and communication," said Doom. "Really enjoyed learning more about myself."
The kids agreed that part of the success of class is due to Pearson's leadership.
"She's straight up front with you," Campbell said.
"Even if she has different views, she doesn't step on toes, but she lets you know what she thinks," Moravatz said.
"Very non-judgmental," said Hess.
"She's awesome," Doom said.
"She's real with me," Harden said.
In addition to talking, the students have worked on projects dealing with their addictions or something that keeps them on the right track, said Pearson.
Campbell's art project was on playing football.
"I've been playing football since seventh grade," he said. "I love sports."
It keeps him on track because "I don't want to mess up because I've got a game later on today. I don't want to get kicked out of sports," he said.
"When you have a kid who messes up, put them in sports," he advised.
"My monster is being dependent on others," Doom said of her project. "I've learned to depend on myself and learn to appreciate others and not take them for granted.
"The art project helped me have something to express my feelings," she added. "I never knew art was something I enjoyed doing."