Students talk it out

All the cool kids are doing it — or so it says on the royal blue Peer Support sweatshirts. On Mondays at 5:15 p.m. hundreds of students (armed with Coffee Bean and Baja Fresh) come from practices, rehearsals and study sessions and troop into the lounge to eat pizza and prepare to share their innermost secrets.

Members of Peer Support are split into groups of roughly 12, with students from 10th, 11th and 12th grade. Students are encouraged to avoid “conflicts” in their groups by separating from their friends. The groups are headed by two seniors, the “leaders,” and two juniors assist them as “trainees.”

School psychologists Dr. Sheila Siegel and Luba Bek advise the program, which is otherwise led by four coordinators. The four coordinators are elected from the ranks of the group leaders by their peers. Last year’s coordinator Claire Seaver ’07 explained that her role was to organize the groups and keep things running smoothly. Once the meeting has started, students are given free rein to talk about anything and everything on their minds, usually issues like fights with friends, relationships, familial conflict, stress about school, eating disorders and drug addictions, coordinator Vanessa Zackler ’08 said.

It’s not all worries and tears, though; Peer Support is famous for its bonding activities, such as group sleepovers.