What SPECIFICALLY is UNITY?
By the time you graduate; Upland High School expects that you will receive training in various ways that will lead to you becoming a responsible citizen, a skillful communicator, and a problem solver. Unity Forum addresses all three issues.
UNITY is a program where eighty to one hundred students are gathered from the Upland High School campus and brought together. Students participate during periods three, four, and five and are required to make up any school work they miss. We start with a few get-to-know-you exercises (icebreaking activities). Icebreakers such as "I like people who..." help the students realize that they have more things in common with others then they might have previously believed. Meeting and making connections with others on campus also helps everyone feel more like a community.
During those period, Peer Leaders are assigned to a group of several students. Within the groups, participants work on activities like breaking down stereotypes, combatting bullying, and understanding diversity and culture. After a discussion, students share their personal understanding and growth.
During lunchtime, students are fed a free lunch. After lunch students watch a play or video created by the 'PEER Players' a theatrical and tech savvy group of students.
At the end, students are gathered altogether to discuss their time at UNITY and share some of their likes and dislikes. Each guest then requests someone that they would like to invite to the next UNITY. UNITY is held once a month, is student-run, and 100% confidential. Since the beginning of this program, student feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. Students claim they like it because they are making connections with other students they might have never met. They also feel that they benefit from thinking critically about issues of prejudice, racism, and stereotypes. As a result of so much positive feedback, we will continue to evaluate our progress and update the program.
UNITY - College and Career Day October 19th 2016
Peer Video - Jumper
Overview of the Peer Programs
In late 1997 the Peer Counseling Program was reestablished with a greater focus on academics and current research. Today the Peer Programs are still available to help students cope with problems they may face in their everyday lives. Upland High School's Peer Programs are still striving to achieve our goal of improving life on campus. In 2001, our name changed from Peer Counseling to Peer Programs, specifically because as peers we listen, question, and pass on accurate information. We do not counsel or give advice, but we do help others to find their own answers or solutions. Peer has existed on Upland High School's campus since 1987, and we are continuing to grow and evolve. This program works because students who need help do not have to go to an adult and share issues that might be uncomfortable for them. Often students are uneasy sharing with someone who is older than they are. They may feel that an adult might not understand their situation.
Who understands teens better than teens? Teens have reported that they feel more comfortable talking to an equal. The Upland High School Peer Programs train our students to empathize with other students on our campus. We provide workshops, training, and one-on-one listeners who can help other students cope with stress, come to positive conclusions, and find successful resolutions to their problems. The Peer Programs' Students and their Advisors work toward creating an empathetic environment and to promote making ethical choices.
Upland High School
Optimum Learning Expectations
► Responsible Citizen
► Skillful Communicator
► Problem Solver
UNITY meets ALL UHS learning standards!
There are students from all walks of life in the class, and all of us have been through experiences that others may be going through right now or may go through in the future. These shared experiences make us an excellent resource for other students who may just need someone to listen to them. "I always know that someone is looking out for me, it's a good feeling to know Peer is there if you need them," said Advanced Peer Leader Mike Harmon.
The Peer Programs have changed to a more standards based academic focus. In the past four years we have worked on writing, speaking to groups, studying current research, and using our available campus resources. Hopefully, students will notice Peer and will utilize the programs we provide. Peer works to improve the UHS environment.
WHAT IS UNITY
UNITY Forum is an opportunity to bring a diverse group of students together on our campus. There are almost four THOUSAND students on Upland Highs campus and someone might just go four years and never connect with another student. Our school cares about issues like this, that's why they have funded a program like UNITY. UNITY stands for Unifying New Ideas for Today's Youth. If you get an invitation it means that we want you to be a part of making connections and making a difference on our campus. See the inside of this pamphlet for specifics on UNITY Forum details.
Letter from the student UNITY Director
Hi, my name is Mason Ortega and I am the UNITY Director for Upland High School’s Peer Programs. I want to share a few things with you about myself, I am a Senior here at Upland and I love planning and organizing for UNITY. I think UNITY should be a fun and easy-going experience, not only for the students invited but for the Peers involved also. I hope that as soon as you walk through the doors at UNITY, you will feel relaxed, at home, and ready to participate in the fun. Remember, you are invited because someone thinks you deserve to go, not because you are in trouble; so have fun and be yourself.
UHS is one of a handful of schools that celebrates UNITY. This means we have an administration and staff that cares about its students and wants student feedback. Peer is a great place for this kind of feedback because our program is student centered and student based. In other words, we study the issues that affect teens and then we set about discussing those issues with our peers. YOU are our peers, and we want to know what you like and what you want to change about our school, community, and world! Hope you will join us!
Frequently asked Questions about UNITY
Why was I invited? (AKA Am I in some kind of trouble?)
Nobody knows why, but this is a common misconception. No, you are not in trouble. Do you really think we would invite you to a forum, feed you an awesome (did we mention free?) lunch… AND clear you for periods three, four, and five? You were invited because your name was either randomly selected, a coach, or staff member thinks you deserve to go, or a friend suggested your name at a previous forum. Being asked to attend should be an honor and privilege – if you are invited, congratulations! Someone thinks you are special!
Do I have to participate?
But of course! Did you think we would invite you, feed you, and clear you… and not expect something in return? As always: you have the right to pass but the responsibility to participate in the UNITY Forum. In other words – if you feel uncomfortable about something, ask to sit out, it’s totally okay, we want you to be comfortable. However, if you decide to stay, then we expect you are going to contribute something. If you find UNITY is not something you like, then you can speak to one of the advisors who will write you a pass back to class. Unfortunately, if you decide to leave we cannot clear you for the period you miss, so be sure to check out with an advisor!
Can I leave to go to lunch?
A large part of our budget is spent on UNITY food. We provide popular and healthy snacks and lunches. If you have special dietary needs, in most cases we can accommodate you. However, we cannot allow students to leave for lunch. If you have a special group of friends, or something in particular you like from the cafeteria, then the good news is UNITY is only one day a month and everything is provided to you for FREE!
What things do we do in UNITY?
Usually we begin with an “icebreaker” – some kind of activity that allows the invited students to have the chance to meet the peer leaders, and each other. After a snack break everyone is broken up into small groups and an issue that either affects teens or our school is discussed. The feedback about small groups has been overwhelmingly positive. It seems most students like the chance to have a say in their education, and they like the idea that the administration and staff want to know what students think! Here is a quote from a survey from last year: “I had a great time and I made some new friends. I really like that I got to share my opinions and that I had a chance to hear what other students, that I had never met before, had to say.”
What if I have to go to the restroom?
Usually, UNITY Form is held in the UHS Library (but we have held it in various locations around the campus.) unfortunately due to construction of the New Conference/UNITY room, the UHS Library restrooms are no longer available. Newly reconditioned restrooms are conveniently located in “G” Foreign Language Bldg. Please check out with a Peer or advisor.
Who else goes to UNITY?
Students, teachers, administrators, and staff regularly attend forums. We make a special effort to include students who share a variety of interests. Those who participate in sports, student government, and excel in academics are often nominated by their teachers – but that doesn’t mean you have to be Einstein or Tiger Woods to be invited – we want people who represent Upland High School and our community.