Leadership to implement social emotional activities


Lyndsey Hamlin

Cami Ward, Erika Barone, Haley Harig and Sadie Gonzales compliment each other during the first “Make it Matter Monday” in yearbook. The yearbook staff traced their hands on a piece of paper and taped it to their backs. Everyone then went around and wrote a compliment on the hand.

Kennedy Wyles, Chief Operating Officer

In order to make stronger connections with each other and their teachers, the leadership students and Hope Squad members created their own social-emotional learning games to present to the faculty and staff. Every Monday, students will stay in their third- or seventh-period classes during Eagle Time to play the games with their peers.

The first “Make it Matter Monday” was Jan. 13. Students first filled out a survey given by the administration. Teachers then chose a social-emotional activity to play.

“We want to take care of every component that we can of a student,” Principal John Burdett said. “We do Eagle Time, which has academic purposes, and it’s going very well. But, we need to take care of the rest of the student.”

A group of teachers including student council sponsors Francisco Salas, Amy Viars and Tony Cooper saw there was a need for social-emotional learning activities because of the size of the campus and the increasing number of students.

“As a teacher, I see that kids aren’t necessarily ready to talk with their teachers or even with student leaders,”  Salas said. “Sometimes when you get them alone in small groups, they do want to share.”

There are 38 new students this semester, increasing the high school population to 4,110 students.

“The activity I came up with wasn’t necessarily a game, but it was more of a way to make teachers aware of the things students struggle with on a daily basis,” sophomore Vice President of Student Council Gracie Hale said. “Having the students respond to questions such as ‘What are your biggest struggles,’ gives the teacher more insight into who each student is as an individual. It also gives students an opportunity to tell their teachers things that they otherwise wouldn’t have told them.”

The leadership students created a spreadsheet for teachers with instructional videos on how to play each game. The spreadsheet is already filled for every Monday in the remainder of the year.

“If everyone takes the activities seriously and actually participate, I do believe they will make a difference in the school,” Hale said. “The materials are all there. Now, it’s just whether or not the students apply themselves and actually make an effort.”

Burdett said he believes the new social-emotional learning activities give students leadership opportunities they can use for the rest of their lives.

“Sometimes you’ll never know the impact you make on people until years later,” Burdett said. “Sometimes you’ll never know, and that’s okay. But when people look back at their experience at Prosper or Rock Hill, or Rogers or Reynolds, I want them to think ‘That made a positive impact on my life in some way.’”

Seniors and juniors with early release are not required to stay in class for “Make it Matter Monday” activities, but are encouraged to do so.

“Studies about SEL activities have shown that they increase academic achievement and positive social interactions, and decrease negative outcomes later in life,” Hale said. “If the students put effort into ‘Make It Matter Monday,’ they will develop skills that will last them their entire life.”