New Approach for Teen Pep

Reflection was the key to this year’s Teen Prevention Education Program, the special health class for selected seniors. Not only did students reflect on their identities and sexuality, they wrote about the topics and ultimately shared information with freshmen. 

“I think this class is very essential to learning about one’s self, about those around us, and about the perceptions of the bigger society around us,” senior Rachel Park said.

The Teen Prevention Education Program, Teen PEP, provides students with information about gender identity, sexuality, STI’s, and more, but this year, as with all classes, the learning and the activities were different from previous years. 

Instead of the skits, students recorded videos and held workshops to teach freshmen about gender identity and safe sexual practices.”

If this were a traditional school year, Teen PEP students would have done class activities, attended a retreat, and facilitated workshops for the freshmen on the DMAE campus. However, as these were impossible to do virtually, classes and assignments were essentially about mindful reflection. 

“Even though we did not have the retreat, I made a weekly journal assignment which fostered students to really think about themselves,” said Maria Buckley who runs the program.  “These weekly questions also enabled me to really get to know each student on a personal basis,” she said.

Ms. Buckley and the students were disappointed that the class did not have the opportunity to bond at the retreat or through creating skits for the freshman as typically happens, but even so, students understood much about sexual health and enjoyed the class.

“We could have had better discussions in real life and the conversations would have flowed much better if we didn’t constantly have to mute and unmute our mics, but that being said, the things I missed out on because of remote learning didn’t subtract too much from my overall Teen PEP experience,” Rachel explained.

Instead of the skits, students recorded videos and held workshops to teach freshmen about gender identity and safe sexual practices.

“We also learned the importance of communication and trust within making sexual decisions and we had virtual workshops to teach freshmen about these issues that teens face and how to conquer these problems,” senior Khushi Panchal said.

Ms.  Buckley and the whole class learned much about doing things differently this year, from the communication challenges of holding classes online to getting the word out to the freshmen in new ways. They hope next year Teen PEP will be able to bring even more connections between seniors and freshmen.