Local college prep program finds success in peer mediation course for students

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KIPP program offers peer mediation course for students

A group of high school students inside a classroom at KIPP gathered in a circle Friday to share their thoughts and feelings. Administrators call it Restorative Justice.

"The purpose of this circle is to build relationships," said teacher Carlos Malave, who leads the class. "It's just building dialogue and building space where they feel comfortable to really express what's going on."

One by one, students go around, expressing what's going through their minds. Staff believe by sharing, it will help them better cope with the things they're dealing with.

Ibrahim Abiodun is a senior in the class. He says he used to not like sharing his feelings, but now, "Coming into the circle lets us, like, express what's going on."

Junior Emily Prudot is also a member of the class. She says, "I feel like this is a support system, something I can just go to and not feel bottled up all the time."

These students not only learn about how to deal with their own feelings, but learn how to help others. They peer mediate younger students at KIPP. School principal Mohamad Maaruf has been working on doing this for a few years.

"The power of student-to-student interaction is just so beautiful," says Maaruf.

He believes this type of interaction can only be positive.

Maaruf says, "Getting students to really dig into the 'why' and dig into the 'What's truly happening' and the root of their behavior is the most important thing, because then you can start to adjust it and really start to shift the way you respond to the situation."

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