Breaking Down the Walls returns to SCHS to improve student interaction

Returning to SCHS after more than a decade, Learning for Living Inc. – the organizers of the Breaking Down the Walls program – is having a school wide assembly tomorrow and coordinating workshops on Tuesday and Wednesday.

BDTW is a program designed to help create a positive and unified high school atmosphere. Dean Whellams, one of the speakers from Learning for Living Inc., will be running the BDTW workshops that will help encourage students to interact with people they normally wouldn’t.

Recommended by teachers, 230 students were selected to participate in these workshops for the entire school day on Tuesday and Wednesday.

“From the email I got, the students invited are a diverse group of kids, so I am excited to communicate with people I don’t know and learn more about them,” said junior Alicia Luong, who was invited to attend the BDTW workshops.

Students will be participating in team bonding activities, break out sessions and group discussions that will allow them to build trust in their peers and open up about issues and challenges they are going through. The goal of the program is to let some students who are struggling see they are not alone, and to give other students a perspective of what problems other people might be going through.

When English teacher Lindsey Couto-Mohamed participated in BDTW as a SCHS student, she felt that it was one of the most powerful and impactful experiences in high school.

“During the workshops, people who felt alone or like outsiders started to see that they are more alike than different to other people and that there are other people dealing with similar problems,” Couto-Mohamed said.

Due to its high cost, BDTW has not been able to come back to SCHS for more than ten years. However, this year the School Site Council has set aside funds for anti-bullying efforts, and they paid $8,300 to make BDTW possible.

“BDTW is a great use of money,” Principal Gregory Shelby said. “The program is about recognizing every person’s humanity, dealing with them respectfully and learning to work together.”