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Generation ROC: Batavia High students take lead on peer support

todayFebruary 8, 2024 3

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BATAVIA, N.Y. (WROC) — Batavia High School students taking the lead to start an unbroken cycle of communication. They’ve volunteered for a training course on mental and emotional wellness, peer support, and healthy discussion.

“There’s been times where I felt like I had a problem when nobody could really relate to me,” explains one of the trainees and a junior at the school, Aiden Bellavia.

Fellow students are here to listen as designated “circle leaders”, thanks to that training organized by one of their teachers, Jeremy Mettler.

“I love the circles, kids are great in them, but I always think that when I have kids running stuff and kids with kids, I think we get more authentic and more open discussions,” he explains to News 8’s Mikhaela Singleton.

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About 15 students started off taking the training organized by Partners in Restorative Initiatives. It’s based on the Native American concept of a “healing circle” with items in the middle to keep you grounded.

“Some people get nervous and don’t like to stare at other people, or they feel more comfortable talking to things that you can focus on that have meaning that has been passed on and given to us to use from the Native American people. We always make sure to explain that to them,” Mettler says.

While the training has long been available to teachers, Batavia students are now the first to take their reins. The first group of circle leaders started going to classrooms across the school to encourage their peers to open up, resolve conflicts, or simply establish themselves as safe to come to.

Xavier Ricks, a sophomore, was in the first wave to join the circles initiative. He says he wanted to take the opportunity to better understand his classmates.

“I want to do sociology. Growing up, it was like I realized there’s like problems in society that people can fix, and I want to be one of those people that can help fix those problems,” Ricks says.

“I feel like when teachers talk to a student, students feel more obligated to speak. As where, if a student is talking to another student, they don’t have to answer the question as the other student would like,” he further explains.

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Mettler says since the circles evolved into the current peer support form, both teachers and students have come back asking for more sessions and participation has shot up during discussions. This prompted Batavia High to call for a second round of student leader training.

Aiden is one of those in the second wave and says he’s learned how to relieve tension in a group, encourage sharing without pressure or expectation, and lead others to understand each other.

“I felt very good, knowing that the students of the school trusted me,” he shares after leading his first circle discussion. “There’s a lot of hate in the world, so a little bit of kindness, and a little bit of peace goes a long way.”

Editor’s Note: If you have suggestions for a Generation ROC story, send us your ideas at news8sunrise@wroctv.com

​ BATAVIA, N.Y. (WROC) — Batavia High School students taking the lead to start an unbroken cycle of communication. They’ve volunteered for a training course on mental and emotional wellness, peer support, and healthy discussion.

“There’s been times where I felt like I had a problem when nobody could really relate to me,” explains one of the trainees and a junior at the school, Aiden Bellavia.

Fellow students are here to listen as designated “circle leaders”, thanks to that training organized by one of their teachers, Jeremy Mettler.

“I love the circles, kids are great in them, but I always think that when I have kids running stuff and kids with kids, I think we get more authentic and more open discussions,” he explains to News 8’s Mikhaela Singleton.
Generation ROC: STEM student shares passion for community and service
About 15 students started off taking the training organized by Partners in Restorative Initiatives. It’s based on the Native American concept of a “healing circle” with items in the middle to keep you grounded.

“Some people get nervous and don’t like to stare at other people, or they feel more comfortable talking to things that you can focus on that have meaning that has been passed on and given to us to use from the Native American people. We always make sure to explain that to them,” Mettler says.

While the training has long been available to teachers, Batavia students are now the first to take their reins. The first group of circle leaders started going to classrooms across the school to encourage their peers to open up, resolve conflicts, or simply establish themselves as safe to come to.

Xavier Ricks, a sophomore, was in the first wave to join the circles initiative. He says he wanted to take the opportunity to better understand his classmates.

“I want to do sociology. Growing up, it was like I realized there’s like problems in society that people can fix, and I want to be one of those people that can help fix those problems,” Ricks says.

“I feel like when teachers talk to a student, students feel more obligated to speak. As where, if a student is talking to another student, they don’t have to answer the question as the other student would like,” he further explains.
Generation ROC: Father-son podcasting team pushes past autism stereotypes
Mettler says since the circles evolved into the current peer support form, both teachers and students have come back asking for more sessions and participation has shot up during discussions. This prompted Batavia High to call for a second round of student leader training.

Aiden is one of those in the second wave and says he’s learned how to relieve tension in a group, encourage sharing without pressure or expectation, and lead others to understand each other.

“I felt very good, knowing that the students of the school trusted me,” he shares after leading his first circle discussion. “There’s a lot of hate in the world, so a little bit of kindness, and a little bit of peace goes a long way.”

Editor’s Note: If you have suggestions for a Generation ROC story, send us your ideas at news8sunrise@wroctv.com Read More Generation ROCRochesterFirst  

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