The Peer Counselor Program at MJHS was created by Mrs. Dianna Risk in the 1995-1996 school year and implemented for the 1996-1997 school year. While elements of the program have changed over time, the overall premise has remained the same. This program is now funded through annual grant funding from the MJHS Peer Counseling Endowment in Honor of Dianna Risk through the Community Foundation of Madison Jefferson County.
Currently, the program offers students in Grades 7 and 8 an opportunity to participate in a leadership training program designed to help students become effective advocates for the prevention of bullying and drug prevention. Students are identified by teachers and counselors and are nominated to participate in the program. If selected, students sign a Peer Counselor Contract which outlines expectations on specific behavior, roles, and responsibilities.
The Peer Counselors are provided with a curriculum which helps with the instruction of self-esteem, assertiveness, communication, and leadership skills. Upon completion, these students have the resources, tools, and ability to lead and inspire their peers. Beginning in 7th Grade, Peer Counselors will train during the Bear Necessities class period and learn foundational elements of the program. Students will work with their 8th Grade peers in a support role during in-class presentations as they prepare to take the lead the following year.
During the summer between grades 7 and 8, our incoming 8th Grade Peer Counselors attend Camp Win-Win. This hands-on learning experience is facilitated by MJHS Counselors and Advisors and teaches students techniques and programs using curriculum lessons and role play which help them develop the necessary skills required to lead and teach lessons to their peers. Our 8th Grade Peer Counselors have a responsibility to prepare for and teach a lesson one Thursday per month to other students within the building. Each 8th Grade Peer Counselor "adopts" a classroom for the year as a way to foster and develop meaningful relationships with students within that classroom.
The Drug Prevention Group is another strong element of the Peer Counselor Program. In addition to the peer mentoring and positive choice lessons, our Drug Prevention Group is very involved and plans several activities throughout the year. Annual events include Red Ribbon Awareness Week and a dance each October where we focus on and promote a drug-free lifestyle. Our team shares drug-free messages with our community as we walk in the Christmas parade, and our students present a performance of the poem "The House That Crack Built" during the incoming student orientation each spring.
Currently, there are 108 students involved in the Peer Counselor Program at MJHS! At MJHS, we all work together all year to incorporate valuable lessons which are applicable at school and at home to help students always strive to be their best and make good decisions.