EAST PROVIDENCE — A half-dozen past and present East Providence High School students were recognized during an assembly of the sophomore and junior classes Monday, April 8, for their efforts in helping raise awareness about teen sexual violence prevention.
The students, in groups of three, were winners of a video contest offered through a program conducted by Day One, The Sexual Assault and Trauma Center of R.I.
Winners of the current, 2013 contest from EPHS were Kristina Basler, Devon Brown and Lesley Penacho. Also recognized Monday was the 2012 EPHS winning team of Liza Anderson, Alexandra Maroto and Melinda Maroto, an EPHS graduate last year. Also,
Alex Medeiros, a city resident and Bishop Hendricken student, participated on the 2012 winning effort.
“I can’t say enough about how powerful these videos are,” said EPHS assistant principal Shani Wallace, who led Monday’s assembly and who helped initiate the Day One program at the school.
“We have so many good kids here. We have lots of points of view and we’re very diverse,” Ms. Wallace added. “And we also have the ability to deliver a powerful message about who we are as a community and a school with a program like this.”
Day One has provided 10th graders with a school-based Prevention Education Program designed specifically for high school students. Workshops address numerous concerns adolescents face daily as well as help students with various challenges they many encounter as they grow.
The workshops consisted of activities and discussions allowing for and encouraging all students to actively participate. The following topics were addressed in each presentation: What is abuse, who is responsible for abuse, and issues concerning victim-blaming; Myths and facts, victims and offenders, incest, the meaning of consent, sexual assault, rape, legal definitions, and resources; Stereotypes, flirting and sexual harassment, how to help a friend, and resources; and the bystander approach: how to respond when you see or know of abuse happening.
After the sessions were completed, students had an opportunity to form teams to create a commercial sharing their personal message to help stop sexual violence. Teams representing EPHS competed with numerous other high schools participating in the Day One Contest entitled “Your Voice, Your View.”
“The (EPHS) kids were great and Shani was really a positive force in getting the program off the ground here. The kids with the winning videos really worked hard for this,” said Sandy Malone, Day One’s Coordinator of Prevention Education.
“The goal, really, is for the kids to have a conversation with each other. Most guys are good guys and they’re not going to assault girls, but they need to talk and express themselves,” Ms. Malone continued. “The thing we’re trying to do is prevent these kinds of assaults from happening in the first place. A couple of high profile assaults have been in the news lately. And maybe if those conversations were had, they may not have happened.”
Among the “high profile” events Ms. Malone referenced was the Steubenville, Ohio case, where two high school football players from the town were recently convicted of raping a drunken 16-year-old girl at an all-night party. The case received international attention due to the graphic and public nature of the boys’ plans to do the young woman harm.
“Things like this do happen. It’s very real,” said Miss Penacho, a member of the 2013 winning EPHS team. “We put ourselves in the position of what if it happened to us. We wanted our voices to be heard so that it won’t happen to anyone else.”
“It’s a real life scenario. The video from last year gave us an idea of what to do,” said young Mr. Brown, also of this year’s winning team. “You walk down the hallways in school and you hear everyday conversations. You wonder if they’re actually talking about things like this. Hopefully with the video we can help get them started.”
For the second year in a row, EPHS teams were celebrated for their winning entries. The students created the winning message in a commercial which will air on Fox Television throughout the month of April. The students were recognized and their commercials debuted on “The Rhode Show” television program.
“It’s a good message and we wanted to help get it across,” said Miss Anderson of the 2012 winning entry. Added Miss Maroto, “It was an opportunity for us to come here and to get involved in an important subject.”