Take a “PEEP” Into Teen PEP


What began as a one day trip last year to a JCC Teen Pep Leadership Conference with 70 students from both Dwight Morrow High School and Academies @ Englewood, has grown into the whole school’s involvement in the Teen Pep program. Sixteen juniors and seniors are enrolled in a 5-day Teen Pep elective course to become leaders in raising awareness in the school community about how to prevent teenage pregnancy and sexually transmitted disease (STD). The students started off the year by going on a three-day retreat free of cost to Trout Lakes Retreats in Pennsylvania, Sept. 18-20, 2012.

“The highlight of the trip was probably when we all had to answer Boundary Breaking Questions,” junior Emily Stein remarked. “It brought us closer because we discovered things about each other that most people would never know.”

Though it rained the first day, the students hardly noticed as they engaged in activities. One trust-building activity required them to gather in a circle blindfolded and trust the person next to them by sitting in his or her lap.
The retreat was designed to establish strong communication and leadership skills through group activities that brought together the soon-to-be leaders and educators who will go on to impart positive messaging on the DMAE campus.“The activity was definitely an ice-breaker and it showed that cooperation and trust were important when working as a team,” junior Joan Chica said.

“Not everybody relates to math or science, but this is a common issue that all teenagers can relate to, so for them to creatively learn in an environment where they are not just looking at the board was really effective,” the school’s ZONE Director and Teen Pep Founder Liz Corsini stated.

Not only did students gain a lot of out of this retreat, but the three teachers, Carol Bender, Glenda James and Abba Dela Cruz who accompanied students, did also. The teachers enjoyed getting to know the students on a different level.

“It was nice seeing that these students with all different voices wanting to become role models and give back to their school and community,” Ms. Bender said.

The teachers also took the opportunity to engage the students in cooperative learning by talking about leadership and active listening as well as teaching them about the reproductive system and gender issues.

Even after the three-day trip, the learning activities continue. Every day, Teen Pep students go to class looking forward to learn from their teachers or the “Three Musketeers,” as they refer to themselves.

“The class brightens my mood every day just because of the activities we do in class, and the friends I have made in the class,” Emily said. They are currently preparing for the teaching sessions that they will have with the middle school and freshmen students by the end of October.

Because Teen Pep is proven to have positive results based on scientific research, the school plans to collaborate with Mathematica, a research program, by surveying the freshmen class and then determining any change of attitude among the freshmen after being educated by the Teen Pep leaders.

There are many more Teen Pep events for the students yet to come, which include the Day of Learning, Family Night and a Teen Leadership Conference. As for next year, Emily strongly encourages the underclassmen to participate in Teen Pep, for not only does it look good on a college résumé but also supplies one with skills that will last a lifetime.