GOWRIE - Creating a positive climate for its students is important at Prairie Valley Junior High and Senior High schools.
Tamara Hanson, Prairie Valley counselor, has been working throughout the school year with students and staff to create a more positive learning environment at the Gowrie school.
"We have been focusing on obviously trying to bring kids together," Hanson said. "We have our Warrior Pack, which is our advisor/advisee program. And we've been working on some anti-bullying curriculum."
In October, the school participated in Mean Stinks, an anti-bullying event sponsored by Secret Deodorant.
"We had other things leading up to it," Hanson said. "We had anti-bullying days we worked in throughout the first three months of school, culminating in the end of October with the assembly. It was on Google Hangouts, and we were one of seven schools chosen across the country to participate in that."
This won't be the last anti-bullying event for the school, though.
"I did just receive another phone call. We're going to follow with that and do some more things now that some time has passed, and revisit that," Hanson said.
Prairie Valley has also started enrichment groups. Its members choose a topic to work on as a group, with the students grouped together according to their interests.
"We've got an art group, we've got a book group. We've got a group interested in video games," Hanson said. "We have a group that was interested in engines and cars, and they're going to put together a go-kart. And that is something we just started that will continue through the rest of the year."
She added, "It's really focused on bringing the kids together and getting them to know kids they wouldn't normally cross paths with."
Hanson said it is important to have a positive climate in schools.
"Kids spend most of their days here," she said. "They need to feel safe when they're here, but they also need that freedom to be themselves and feel good about themselves; not feel like they have to fit into a particular clique."
The students of the PVCSD, though, are not drawn toward cliques, according to Hanson.
"That's one thing I will say about our particular school. It's not that we don't have groups of kids who have their friend groups, but we're not a cliquey group here," she said. "If a kid has to sit at a different lunch table or they have to be in a Warrior Pack with kids they don't always hang out with, it's never been a big issue for them."
Also important in schools, Hanson said, is acceptance.
"The acceptance is there, and that is so important because the kids are at that age where they feel awkward, and they're learning who they are," she said. "They need to be able to explore that, and feel like they won't be judged because of that."