Annual Student Mediation Conference to Bring Peer Mediators Together

Posted: March 7, 2006 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

Thousands of elementary and middle school students across the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area choose to learn and use peaceful conflict resolution strategies to resolve disputes. This year, peer mediators will come together at George Mason on March 14 and 15 for the 14th Annual Northern Virginia Regional Student Mediation Conference.

Close to 2,000 students, teachers, counselors, administrators, parents and community volunteers from more than 125 schools will participate in the Pathways to Peace Conference. Participants will learn skills and strategies to help make their schools safe and respectful learning environments.

The conference emphasizes the theme that conflict resolution skills provide the power to make a difference. During the workshops, participants will explore how student mediators can utilize their skills in mediation, communication, teamwork, listening, trust, respect and anger management to help guide their peers towards the peaceful resolution of conflict. High school peer mediators will help facilitate the workshops.

The conference is sponsored by Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) and the Institute for Conflict Analysis and Resolution at George Mason in cooperation with Arlington County Public Schools, Fairfax County Department of Family Services, Fairfax County Office of Partnerships, the Northern Virginia Mediation Service, Fairfax County ADR Office and Virginia State Bar Association, Young Lawyers Committee. Additional participating organizations include Alexandria City Public Schools, District of Columbia Public Schools and Loudoun County Public Schools. Several private schools will also be in attendance.

The March 14 conference for elementary schools begins with introductory remarks by Brad Draeger, deputy superintendent, FCPS. Jack Dale, superintendent, FCPS, will welcome middle school participants on March 15.

The opening session will feature a live presentation by peer mediators from Westfield High School demonstrating the importance of peer mediation for students. They will continue their presentation in the closing session.

Participants can select a workshop from nine different strands ranging from introductory to highly advanced. Two workshops are designed for adults only. The workshops are co-facilitated by adult mediators from the community and schools in partnership with experienced high school and middle school mediators. These partnerships empower student leaders to share their skills with fellow students.

Participants new to mediation will learn and practice the mediation process. Newly trained mediators will focus on managing the mediation process. Experienced mediators will gain advanced skills for mediating difficult situations and using conflict resolution skills outside of formal mediations.

Highly experienced mediators will learn strategies for mediating group conflicts. Additional workshops focus on building peaceable schools and communities, marketing mediation and using improvisation to promote conflict resolution skills.

For further information, contact Marge Bleiweis, conflict resolution specialist, Safe and Drug-Free Youth Section, FCPS, 703-876-5247.

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