The Eagle's Eye

Restorative Circles an opportunity to break social barriers

Image+depicting+an+Akins+Eagle+during+a+Restorative+Circle+session.
Image depicting an Akins Eagle during a Restorative Circle session.

Image depicting an Akins Eagle during a Restorative Circle session.

Blake Barto

Blake Barto

Image depicting an Akins Eagle during a Restorative Circle session.

Larry Durden, Staff Writer

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With a class of 30 students seated in a giant circle filling the classroom, it’s my chance to share something to my class that’s been on my mind — puberty

After taking the “talking piece,” which indicates to the others in the circle that it’s my chance to speak, I said puberty is one of the biggest challenges I have faced in my life. I feel short for my age compared to my peers and I don’t like it.

Puberty is not an easy topic for me to talk about, but I felt safe sharing my feelings because of the rules established by the Restorative Justice Circles that have been created in classrooms across campus this school year. I have experienced the circles in my AVID class and freshmen students are participating in circles in their Social Emotional Learning classes, as well.

The circles provide a chance for students to speak their mind or talk about things that are going on in their lives. The topics can range from something as simple as, “how is your day” to something more serious like, “what’s the hardest thing about being a teenager?” Students don’t joke around about anything said.

According to AVID teacher Thomas Frierson, they decided to start the Restorative Circles this year. Frierson and a few other teachers thought the Restorative Circles would be good for kids who are shy, have trouble expressing themselves or just need a safe place to vent.

Sierra Sepeda, the coordinator for the Restorative Justice programs at Akins, said the Life Anew organization she works for was asked to help at Akins due to fights in the 2014-2015 school year between students and administrators thought that the idea of the Restorative Circles would help the students find an alternative rather than fighting.

The ABLLE and Social Services academy teachers have undergone training for Restorative Justice practices. Administrators at Akins decided to start campus-wide rollout of Restorative Justice with the circles and the first two academies before trying to implement more complex practices later.

If the Circles are any indication of the power of Restorative Justice, I am excited to see what it can do to help Akins improve the campus atmosphere and reduce conflict between students.

AVID student Arnold Caceres said he enjoys the Restorative Circles because it has helped him overcome his shyness. “I really like how everyone shares their feelings and understand where we come from when we do share,” he said.

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About the Writer
Larry Durden, Staff Writer

Name: Larry Durden(Miami)
Grade: 12
Academy: New Tech
Year on Staff: 2
Title: Staff Writer
Why they are on staff? Because I have always had a passion...

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