■ By Jennifer Martin / Contributed
The River Springs Hemet Quest Student Center kicked off their Belong Crusade and Bully Prevention Event Oct. 3. The Belong Crusade aligns with the River Springs Hemet Quest focus on Belonging, Intentional focus and steps, and Mastery Grading. As a school that values the social-emotional wellness of all students, there is an intentional focus to ensure all students feel as though they belong and are valued. Time is devoted each day to develop social-emotional wellness in all students using lessons, stories, activities and restorative circles.
Students shared that they “love being able to be a good friend to others.” Another student said, “In my other school I was teased and bullied for my looks; at River Springs Quest, I have made a lot of friends and everyone is kind to me.”
Walking around campus, you will even find first grade students handing out notes of encouragement just because they enjoy it. An after school club has a specific focus to create a welcoming environment, encourage others, and hide rocks with special notes to brighten someone’s day.
The Belong Crusade and Bully Prevention Event provided a forum for many guest speakers, including Hemet City Councilwoman Karlee Meyer, who shared valuable information on cyberbullying and internet safety. The Hemet/San Jacinto Gang Task Force set up a panel that focused on community safety, and Los Angeles Police Officer Del Bono, a River Springs graduate, discussed safety and speaking up when you see something that is not right. Social media personality Marlene Wilkerson hosted a seminar on loving yourself and using those things that hold you back to propel you in your future. She also spent time during the school day and shared her story with fifth through eighth grade students.
Staff members Amanda Sato, Brian Bailey and Chris Lowe presented seminars on bully prevention and restorative practice circles, demonstrating how the River Springs Hemet Quest staff and students respond to students’ social-emotional needs and solving problems or confrontations. Following the seminars and panels, students and families celebrated with food, games and prizes.