“Honestly, doing this program with the DMAE community is the highlight of my week,” Kara Cooper said with her eyes lit up.

Ms. Cooper, an NYU stern professor, is the leader of a pilot program that is part of the ZONE. She has been teaching two sections of an eight-week seminar “Life Skills” class to seniors on Wednesdays. The sections, divided by gender, have approximately 16 students in each class. Hoping that students would be more outspoken on personal topics that are part of the course, such as self-esteem, coordinator Liz Corsini suggested the idea to split them up.

“We thought instead of just splitting them randomly, why not do it by gender? We think that splitting them by gender will let them be more comfortable with one another when discussing touchy topics,” Ms. Corsini said.

The seminar began on Oct. 2, 2013, and will continue until Nov. 20, 2013. Students are exposed to this class that college students would usually take upon entering college.

“I’m really happy that I get to do this with high school seniors. When I speak to first year college students, I find that most of the information is not relevant anymore, almost like it’s too late,” Ms. Cooper explained.

The curriculum covers topics such as strategic learning, self-awareness, and communication skills. As the class progresses, topics get more intimate such as social health and self-esteem issues. Recently, the girls discussed self-esteem issues to understand how they really view one another.

“With the class consisting of only girls, I think it was easier to connect with each other since we can relate to each other in terms of feelings, perspectives, etc. For example, it was really easy to open up about how we felt about ourselves versus how other peoples feel about us,” Shannon Rebadio, a senior in the class, stated honestly.

With some students very enthusiastic about the class, the Zone is eager to find out the impact that the class is having on students.

“When I sit in the back listening in, I hear people engaged and listening in to the discussion. I wouldn’t know the real impact, the students would know. What I do know is that the students all show up to every class, never skipping,” Ms. Corsini said.

Although the seminar is coming to a close, Ms. Cooper has high hopes for the future. She hopes to return in spring to teach a similar seminar. She has also set personal goals.

“I think there’s always room to improve. I hope to be a resource for these students. I want to be someone they can come to in times of need,” Ms. Cooper said.

Ms. Cooper hopes that students will walk away from this class with new information that they will try to apply to their lives.

“I am a firm believer that if we are open with ourselves, others, and our environment it will lead to an enriched life in the future,” Ms. Cooper stated.