SCOTCH PLAINS, NJ -- Union Catholic hosted its annual Peacemakers in Progress event on Tuesday as seventh graders engaged with student leaders from UC in a workshop that combined fun activities with group discussions designed to build confidence and avoid conflict.
The seventh grade students that attended were from from St. Theresa in Kenilworth, St. Joseph the Carpenter in Roselle, Holy Trinity in Westfield, St. James the Apostle in Springfield, St. John the Apostle in Clark, and St. Joseph in East Orange.
The UC students who participated were seniors Kira Alexander, Elisha Boamah,Emily Duggan, Amanda Guas, Makay Johnson, Jake Mintel, Goldera Surles, Christine Vilarino, Scott Yallico, and juniors Mia Bonadies, Alexandra Borik, Karen Degnan, Giulia Goggi, Patrick Hartnett, Lily Helander, Ray Lestarchick, James McElroy, Michael Morano, Lauren Power, Alexandra Ramistella, Patrick Sullivan, and Gabriella Zamora.
“The purpose of the event is to encourage the young visitors to learn strategies on being "upstanders" instead of "bystanders,’’ said moderator Mrs. Melissa Yezo. “Our Union Catholic student leaders partnered up with the seventh graders in order to encourage communication, support, and peaceful conflict resolution strategies which will hopefully be implemented in our neighboring schools and communities. The workshop gives students opportunities to open up about personal situations and helps them understand that there are many others out there who are experiencing the same issues.’
Mrs. Yezo said that the program is very effective and rewarding.
“I think it’s really important for Union Catholic to do this,’’ said Mrs. Yezo. “This is a way of giving middle school kids the opportunity to talk about things that may be affecting them in their personal lives, and it gives them a chance to interact with some older kids who may have gone through some of the same situations as them, and opens up the world a little bit to them.’’
Mrs. Yezo was very excited about how the event went.
“Overall I think it was a very successful day,’’ said Mrs. Yezo. “I had a lot of help with great student leaders, many who understand the meaning and purpose behind this. It was another successful peacemakers. Hopefully we’ve given them some confidence to take back with them. ’'