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Grant funds peer mediator program at Olympic High

At the age of 15, Courtney Johnson is a sophomore at Olympic High School and a seasoned veteran at resolving conflicts among her peers. Courtney, who was a peer mediator for two years at Ridgetop Junior High School, is part of a new 38-student strong peer mediator program at OHS.

In the program, the peer mediators help students work together to come up with a reasonable solution for their conflicts.

The way the program is set up is that if two students are having a conflict, they can choose to go through mediation or they can try to work it out among themselves.

“The good thing about mediation for students is that’s it’s totally optional,” Courtney said. “The good thing about peer mediation is that they know they always have someone to talk to with their problems. The good thing about having students do it is that they can talk to someone on their own playing field, someone they can relate to.”

Katie Fanua, OHS’s security officer, is the program’s coordinator. For the training last fall, she coordinated with the security officers from Central Kitsap High School, Rick Haskins and Sarah Malone, to train students from both schools.

Fanua keeps a list of all the peer mediators, along with which classes they prefer to be called out of in case they are needed. This way, she has peer mediators on call for every class period, she said.

For the students who choose to use peer mediators, they must first agree to five rules. There can be no name calling, each side has to listen to the other without interrupting, both sides must find a common solution to the problem, both sides have to be honest and both sides have to understand that the peer mediators cannot take sides, Fanua said.

Fanua wanted the school to become more proactive in student discipline and try to resolve conflicts before the conflicts became physical, she said.

The program was launched with a grant from Dispute Resolution Center of Kitsap County’s United Way grant for peer mediation. Each year, the DRC receives a grant from the county’s drug prevention fund. The grant, which runs at about $6,500 every year,

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