Printed with permission of Shanti Hinkin ’22
Students gathered at school Saturday, Feb. 20, for the first on-campus Peer Support (PSUPP) meeting of the school year. Each respective PSUPP group sat in socially distanced circles on the upper school’s field while participating in their usual sharing and activities of a meeting.
The program is open to all upper school students with the goal of fostering a safe space in which students can share about issues of any measure. Throughout the school year, meetings continued to be held every Monday night, but through Zoom meetings due to the restrictions of the pandemic.
The program is run by four head senior group leaders with each group run by two senior leaders and junior leaders in training who are in charge of facilitating the weekly meetings. Spencer Sherman ’21, a senior group leader, spoke on the importance of the program.
“Peer support provides the perfect space to share any issue, no matter how big or small, to a group of students that are eager to listen and respond,” Sherman said. “[PSUPP] helps you open up and meet new students who you might not have formed a friendship with.”
For some students, Saturday’s meeting on campus was their first chance meeting each other outside of their regular Zoom meetings. Lily Saada ’22, a junior group leader in training, reflected on being introduced to members of her PSUPP group for the first time.
“Being online of course has obstacles, but it’s also made [our PSUPP group] closer in different ways,” Saada said. “It’s harder to form individual relationships within the group since there’s less personal interaction but I think there’s an overall sense of community because we need more support this year than we normally would. I definitely feel a close bond with my group since we’re going through such a tough time together.”
Sherman, a member of the program since his sophomore year, reflected on the effects the pandemic has had on his group’s sharing and meetings thus far.
“This year might be the closest my PSUPP group has gotten in such a short amount of time,” Sherman said. “It’s unbelievable how comfortable the sophomores are in my group with everybody else, that they might not have even met in real life yet, and I am impressed to say the least. I was not this willing to share in my sophomore year, and some of them have already shared multiple times. I applaud each and every one of them.
Looking forward to the rest of the school year, it is currently unknown whether more PSUPP meetings on campus are in store, but with the recent announcement of a limited return to academics on campus in President Rick Commons’ email Feb. 22, the program is likely to return as well.
“I don’t doubt that future meetings will contain laughter, sadness, and everything in between as we continue maturing into amazing people,” Sherman said. “The fact that these students are able to persevere in the most unimaginable circumstances we have ever faced as teenagers is incredible, and I hope that many of them cherish and enjoy Peer Support as much as I have enjoyed having them in my group.”