University Hosts Student Mediation Conference

Posted: June 1, 2000 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

On June 1 and 2, more than 2,700 students, teachers, counselors, administrators, volunteers, and parents from 250 schools gather at the Fairfax Campus for the eighth annual Northern Virginia Regional Student Mediation Conference, “Pathways to Peace,” sponsored by the Institute for Conflict Analysis and Resolution (ICAR) and Fairfax County Public Schools. Since 1993, elementary, middle school, and high school students from the D.C. metropolitan area have assembled to discover how to use mediation principles to resolve differences nonviolently.

“The conference is designed to celebrate the fact that students can learn skills to make their schools safer places, to focus positive attention on schools where mediators are solving problems all day [in the wake of events like the Columbine shootings], and to bring kids together on a college campus,” says coordinator and ICAR doctoral student Robert Harris.

The conference is held on two days, with middle and high school students attending on the first day, and elementary students on the second day. Opening remarks are given by Daniel Domenech, superintendent for Fairfax County Public Schools, on June 1 and by Alan Leis, deputy superintendent for Fairfax County Public Schools, on June 2.

The conference includes 80 workshops, co-facilitated by more than 200 students and adults, in which students learn about writing mediation agreements, managing anger and other strong emotions, building holistic conflict resolution programs in their schools, structuring and running mediations between groups, mediating difficult situations that may include cultural differences, developing marketing materials, and creating and enacting skits that will help them develop a deeper awareness of situations that cause conflict. The conference culminates in a student improvisational theater demonstration organized by the Fairfax County Public Schools Improv Troupe.

For more information about the conference, contact ICAR at x31300.

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