Oak Lawn Community High School forms Spartan Sisterhood
Challenge: At Oak Lawn Community High School in Illinois, Dean of Students Jamie Hernandez along with other teachers wanted to start a support group for female students.
“As a dean, I see a lot of negativity, and I felt it would be nice to have my hand in something positive to build strong relationships and build self-esteem,” says Hernandez.
Solution: The female student support group began talking to girls during homeroom about having a positive self-image, remaining positive on social media and maintaining healthy relationships. Now, about 200 freshmen meet at various times during the year, sometimes twice per month.
Outside school, the group hosts field trips and other events. “We made the school-day meetings mandatory because we want those kids to get the message that we care and that if they want to participate further, then there are opportunities.”
Throughout the year, the group hosts field trips, some of which include fees. Girls have gone to the Greater Chicago Food Depository to package food, to the Jane Adams Hull-House museum, and to the movies to see Hidden Figures (Hernandez paid for the tickets). Students are transported to such activities on a 15-passenger bus.
Recently, the group hosted a two-day series event featuring a guest speaker from the Suleh Freedom Foundation, who talked to freshmen about healthy relationships. The speaker provided examples of negative relationships, and led a Q&A session on how anyone can be preyed upon. “She said how a football quarterback or a quiet kid can be preyed upon,” says Hernandez. “All your stereotypes have their strengths and weaknesses.”
Social media campaigns
Students and teachers also hang up posters that show examples of positive and inspiring social media posts. “We know that our students are using social media and that we are giving them iPads at school, so it’s about them learning to use the tools appropriately for school,” says Hernandez.
Social-emotional learning in homerooms
Each grade has advisory periods in which students learn state-mandated lessons on how to resolve conflict and represent themselves online.
Last fall, members of the student council, team captains and class presidents participated in “intensive training on how to be the best version of themselves,” says Hernandez.
To learn more about the school’s bullying prevention policies, click here.