An Alternative to PE

Join Teen Pep and Teach Freshman about Sexuality


Teen Pep members enjoying their trip.

How do you talk about sex, and even more complicated, safe sex? Almost 30 dedicated upperclassmen spent weeks in preparation for this important teaching task through the Teen Pep Program at DMAE. On November 21, 2017, these juniors and seniors taught the first Teen Pep workshop to freshmen in the DMAE library.

The workshops we do break down barriers the freshmen may have to talk maturely about sex and accountability in a relationship.”

— Michael Tavaglione

Teen Pep Program Manager Maria Buckley has been teaching this nationwide program for six years, and this was the largest group of kids to date. Instead of Physical Education, selected juniors and seniors take part in Teen Pep to spread the word about safe sex.

Teen Pep members on the bus ride.

“I’m really proud of my class this year. They’ve dedicated their time and hard work and I️ look forward to the workshops ahead and seeing my peer educators perform the skits and teach the freshmen,” Ms. Buckley exclaimed.

Teen Pep prepares upperclassmen to teach freshmen about everything from postponing sexual activity to dealing with STDs. They go through team building of their own to learn how to teach freshmen to make good decisions regarding sexual health.

“It is a proven fact that teens learn best from other teens,” Ms. Buckley said. “Many times when parents tell you something, you don’t want to listen. Many times, when someone your age, or a year or two older, gives you the same advice, you will listen,” she said.

The November Teen Pep workshop in the library was one of several planned for this school year. Each workshop has two parts: first a skit performed by the upperclassmen to sort of “break the ice” on the topic of sex and set up certain common situations. Then freshmen students are divided into groups with senior leaders to learn more details and facts from the upperclassmen. Here, freshman can also ask questions in a safe, comfortable setting.

“The Teen Pep workshop taught me and my classmates about healthy relationships” freshman Kaitlyn Gelman said. “Honestly, just hearing it from upperclassmen made it easier to talk about and understand,” she added.

It takes about three weeks to get ready for a workshop, which shows how upperclassmen believe in the value of this peer work.

“The workshop is a valuable experience for both freshmen and the peer educators,” Michael said. “It is essential for everyone to know the necessity of safe sex and the consequences of sexual relations, whether they are positive or negative,” he said.

To become a Teen Pep peer educator upperclassmen must apply and then interview with Ms. Buckley. Other teachers provide input on the character of candidates, and then  Ms. Buckley selects the best possible candidates for the positions.

Once chosen, the students go on a mandatory three-day team building trip to Camp Bernie in Port Murray, NJ.

Senior members collaborating.

“Teaching the freshmen gave me a sense of pride. I know a lot of freshmen are too afraid to talk about their experiences,” Michael said. “However, I believe it would help freshmen to see LGBT counterparts to the largely heterosexual skits,” he concluded.