The kids have had a blast, and it’s been cathartic, given all the visuals they’ve seen.
“It’s fun helping other people and the community,” 12-year-old Tizaria “Tizzy” Sykes said. “It makes me sad to see all the damage.”
That’s where those Friday meetings come up huge.
“It helps a lot,” Austin said. “Whatever we say in this classroom stays in this classroom. You don’t have to keep it all inside, and it feels good to be able to say how we feel in here.”
Somers said she knows of other teachers around the school who are doing similar meetings, and said she couldn’t do it without administrative support. She said the district has recently made a push to address students’ socio-emotional needs.
“We have a lot of kids in District 428 who have a lot on their plates,” Somers said. “[The meetings are] something I always wanted to do, but I always felt pressured by the curriculum, that we had to squeeze everything in.”