As teens, we are trained to run to adults with our problems. They are old enough to know how to fix things, how to problem solve when young adults cannot. However, as students on the brink of entering adulthood, high schoolers are developing the skill to think for themselves. While some adults might argue that adolescents simply do not have the experience to deal with serious issues, the entire purpose of MC’s new peer counseling program is to help students do exactly that.
Senior Jill Warren went to counselor Kimberly Bronson last year and brought up one glaring difference between MC and other Poway Unified schools: the lack of peer counseling.
“My friends at Poway are in the [peer counseling] program, and I just thought it would be a really cool thing to participate in,” Warren said.
Peer counseling is made up of a 26 students who volunteer to help other MC students deal with their own issues.
“We’re not supposed to tell them anything,” Warren said. “We can’t give advice but we can help them by asking them questions and helping them come to a self-realization.”
Members of the peer counseling team applied at the end of last year and underwent a training course before the school year started.
“We learned how to refrain from giving advice,” sophomore Rameen Javadian said. “We also learned how to really be good listeners, and how to identify the problem and to help them help themselves.”
The students were put into realistic scenarios where they had to solve problems without an adult’s help.
“We do a lot of role-playing type things, like, what do you do if there’s someone who approaches you and they’re suicidal, or what do you do if they share with you that they have a really serious problem,” Bronson said.
In addition to training, peer counselors also have the advantage of diversity. They range from sophomores to seniors, with all kinds of differences in between.
“We tried to have a mix of grades, a mix of ethnicities, a mix of religions, just to kind of make sure our student body was represented,” Bronson said. “We really feel it’s important that we’re ambassadors of MC.”
Diverse peer counselors also mean that the team has a wide range of languages, including Swahili, Hebrew, Mandarin, Farsi, Vietnamese, French, and Russian.
“We are very proud to have a great representation of many cultures, ethnicities, religions, and races,” Bronson said.
Now, with the proper training and the skills needed to attack real situations, the peer counselors are ready to get to work.
“It seems like we’re going to be leaning a lot toward mentoring and tutoring,” peer counseling co-advisor Sheila Hatfield said.
For this year and farther into the future, peer counseling has one goal.
“We want to watch out for other students and just make sure that everyone is really happy,” Warren said. “And if there are any problems we will try to help them.”