Students build 'high school survival guide' through skits aimed at younger classes

A drama class at Colonel Gray High School is hoping to help younger students navigate the tough teenage years through a series of short skits based on their own painful life experiences.

The class has teamed up with the Making Waves committee at Colonel Gray to present the skits to students from Queen Charlotte Intermediate.

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The Making Waves group promotes positive mental health and builds relationships between older and younger students. Grade 12 student Lily Balderston has seen the impact those peer-to-peer connections can have.

"It's a really good thing to have students talking to slightly older students who have been through it, who have dealt with it themselves and who are closer to their age, rather than having to talk to an adult who might not be completely aware of some of the stuff, especially with the internet and Snapchat," she said. 

"It's a lot easier to talk to someone who's just recently been through it."

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Laughter and lessons

Drama teacher Lon Bechervaise asked students to explore the question, "What do you wish your Grade 7 self had known before you came to high school?"

The class wrote skits that they hope the younger kids will learn from.

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"It's amazing because they go through a series of being comedic and then being serious and then here's the actual lesson," he said.

"It's sort of a high school survival guide: how to be a little more effective and maybe be empowered when you get to Colonel Gray."

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Range of topics

The skits include coming to Canada as a newcomer, the pain of being left out by your friends, the pressure to drink, vape, or send explicit pictures, and being teased about the food you eat.

Grade 12 student Ellen O'Reilly remembers the pain she felt when a group of girls in junior high started a rumour that she was anorexic. O'Reilly did not have anorexia but did suffer from severe acid reflux that made eating painful at times.

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She would force herself to eat until she felt sick just to prove the rumour was a lie. O'Reilly wants younger students to know that words matter.

"I want them to know that sometimes comments can really stick with people," O'Reilly said.

"A couple of comments that were made to me when I was in junior high have stuck with me and I don't want anyone else to experience that and I wish I had someone talk to me when I was in Grade 7. It probably would have changed my life honestly."

Molly Rainnie

'Ruins her night'

17-year-old Molly Rainnie wrote skits about life experiences that have shaped her. The first about the pressure kids feel following in the footsteps of a popular older sibling, and the second about the pain of being left out.

It's a pain Rainnie can relate to. She remembers how terrible she felt being home on a Friday night, having fun with her family, when all of a sudden a picture would pop up on her phone of her friends at a party without her.

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"In the skit it shows that it really just ruins her night and she talks about how she really thought she was having fun until she saw that picture on Instagram, and I know that's what I felt when I was going through those things," she said. 

"I just want the kids in junior high to know that whenever you're really having fun just recognize that and don't let anything fake on social media ruin that for you. It's a really important message, so I'm happy that we get to show it in front of the entire Grade 7 class."

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