ICAR Hosts High School Mediators

Posted: November 22, 2004 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Fran Rensbarger

More than 200 students from 16 Northern Virginia high schools will converge on the Fairfax Campus tomorrow to attend the Pathways to Peace—Prevention, a peer mediation conference. Cosponsored by the Institute for Conflict Analysis and Resolution (ICAR) and the Safe and Drug-Free Youth Office of Fairfax County Public Schools, the conference will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 1:15 p.m. in Student Union Building II.

Unlike the spring peer mediation conference, which includes elementary and middle school students from the mid-Atlantic area, only 8 to 10 dedicated students and staff from each local school are invited to this meeting to discuss ideas for their respective mediation programs and network with each other. In advance of the conference, students submitted ideas for workshops, which they plan and present with support from their coordinators. The final topics are parent-teen mediations, preventing bullying and gangs, group mediation, reducing stereotyping, restorative justice, creating a buy-in for your program, and a look at careers and opportunities beyond high school.

Introductory speakers are Alice Farling, assistant superintendent, Fairfax County Public Schools, and Sarah Cobb, ICAR director. Andy Shallal, the keynote speaker, will share his experiences in peace making and encourage the mediators to continue using their skills to promote better understanding in school, the community, and the international arena. Shallal is the proprietor of Mimi’s restaurant, where he sponsors a peace cafĂ© that brings Jews and Arabs together to talk and learn from one another.

Students will also break into table groups, and, with the help of facilitators from ICAR and the mediation community, will discuss their work as peer mediators and brainstorm ways to improve their programs. This conference also offers an opportunity for the students to renew their commitment to creating a safe school environment.

More information is available from Bryn Bernstein at bbernste@gmu.edu or bryn.bernstein@fcps.edu.

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