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Meet the ‘Peace Queen’ who’s helping reduce trouble at Sullivan High

October 11, 2015

from the article by Linze Rice for DNAinfo:

When Aryanna Boatman talks, she keeps her hands folded in her lap and speaks softly, but with confidence.

The 17-year-old senior at Sullivan High School in Rogers Park sits in a powdered blue room where the walls are bespeckled with positive affirmations and there are translations of “peace” in several languages.

It’s the Peace Room. A “safe place,” Boatman says.

It’s the place where students, and at times staff, come when they need to process an event, emotion or situation — like Boatman did last year when she nearly hit her former friend over the head with a chair during an argument at school.

“I’ve learned that you just have to let some things go,” Boatman said. “Because if you got all that stuff bottled up inside of you, you’re not really gonna be focused on class. You’ll be focused on the problems or issues, which is going to reflect on your grades.”

….For Jonathan Binion, a 17-year-old Sullivan senior set on attending Juilliard in New York for acting, the impact of the program has been strong. For him, the peace room has become a place of safety and respite, he said.

He was first introduced to the room at a friend’s suggestion after getting in a heated lunch room shouting match with another friend. Now, he said he’s peacefully resolved conflicts among family members at home using tactics he learned through Siskin and her team.

He said Siskin taught he and his friend to channel empathy by thinking about what the other may have experienced just hours before getting into the argument — a turning point in Binion’s life he says when he realized petty fights like his are often just covering for a deeper emotional wound.

Now, he too encourages other students to seek the peace room.

“I’m glad that I didn’t let the friendship end over something petty,” Binion said. “Give the peace room a chance. Even if it’s not the peace room, there’s other adults in this building that Brielle has trained to facilitate peace circles, so it’s a lot of safe people you can talk to. It’s a great chance if you do come.”

Read the whole article.


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