By Catherine Chenault

Over the years, the behavior of the students at my high school, Hiram Johnson, has changed dramatically, and for the better. Not too long ago, my school was thought of as one of the worst, behaviorally, in the Sacramento Unified School District. Brutal fighting and even riots were the norm for the students that attended Hiram Johnson.

Too many cruel acts were reported on the local T.V. news and newspapers. But when I first started attending this school as a freshman, I found out that it wasn’t as bad as most people chalked it up to be, granted there were still fights but they were not as brutal as those I had read about. It made me realize that many people still judged my school based on past events, something I felt wasn’t fair to the present students.

As my time at Hiram Johnson has continued, I have started to see that stigma lift through new programs that promote safe school environments and administrative involvement. One of our main resources on campus that helps keep the peace is the student support center called Peer Mediators.

This program serves as the middleman between being in trouble and staying out of it. It allows students to mediate conflicts between their peers and help them come to an agreement that doesn’t involve violence. I believe this system works because it allows students to not feel intimidated. Because it is not a grown up playing the authority roll, but rather a peer that can relate to them trying to help solve the issue, the program is more effective at solving problems before they result in violence.

“The students at my school’s behavior has changed a lot,” says Matthew Saeteun, a Hiram Johnson High School senior. “Different generations of students coming into school are acting different. It’s very diverse.

From my personal experience being apart of the Peer Mediator program. I have seen the outcome of its tactics, and for the most part I would say it has been successful. I feel that if programs like this were implemented in other schools it could reduce the behavior issues, allowing school staffers to focus more on education. When many people talk about my school now, their first thoughts are no longer those of negative ones, but ones that see improvement and positive behavior.

Hiram W. Johnson is on the move upward, and with the right programs designed to prevent violence, it will not be falling backwards.