The Power of Peer

Posters can be found all across the school with specific information on Peer Advisors, now a club at Staples.

After Peer Advisors was cut from the 2011-2012 school year, a Facebook group called “KEEP PEER ADVISORS ALIVE” was made to gain support and do exactly what the title commands. Nicolette Weinbaum ’12 also created a petition alongside the Facebook group to persuade Elliot Landon, the Superintendent of Schools, to put Peer Advisors back into the budget.

Peer Advisors is a program created by Michael Newman in 1995. “It is a very open and honest environment where students can talk in total confidence about any issues that they want,” said Newman.

Until the end of last year, Peer was funded by the Board of Education andUnited Wayin order to pay Newman for his work with the students.

However, in June, Newman was called into a meeting with Landon, Principal John Dodig, and the assistant superintendent of curriculum. Landon informed Newman that due to budget constraints, they had decided to discontinue the program.

Newman told the Peer members at their next meeting. His announcement spurred feelings of anger and disbelief. Misha Strage ’12, a three-year member of Peer, said that she was upset about Landon’s decision.

“Peer has helped so many people,” said Strage. “It may not be something that we can show, but ask anyone in Peer and they will tell you it has impacted their life in more ways than they could have imagined.”

Caroline Howe ’12, a member of Peer for two years, had similar feelings. “I felt like we had all been unfairly judged and dismissed,” said Howe. “No one knows what Peer is like unless you are in it.”

The members of Peer decided to submit an application to be a school club. “Something had to be done,” said Walker Marsh ’13. “We were extremely motivated to get Peer back. There was no way we could let it go.”

The school granted Peer permission to become a club. The only change was the fact that Newman would no longer be paid by the school. Instead, the Education and Prevention Institute of Connecticut, a nonprofit company, agreed to fund the program.

Both Newman and the members were grateful for the outcome. “Staples needs Peer so kids from every corner of school can remove the walls between each other and relate with one another,” said Howe. “This group has such great potential to create a community in our aggressive school.”

Peer will continue to meet every Tuesday and Wednesday night from6-8 p.m.in the teachers’ cafeteria.