Challenge Day necessary for student bonding

April 17, 2009 — by Shannon Galvin

“All you need is love,” sang the Beatles in one of their songs. And to make Challenge Day work in the days that follow, that’s exactly what we need.

On March 17, about 80 students joined together in the gym for a day to break down stereotypes and develop a community. After a whole morning of energetic icebreakers and cheesy dancing, students broke into small groups. For many, it was one of their first opportunities at school to simply talk about the troubles they had stacked on their plate.

Ask practically anyone who attended the event and they will tell you they were moved or affected in some way. But now that the day has come and passed, it is even more important to keep up that level of openness every day at school.

Some argue that Challenge Day only puts up a façade of false reality. Once the day is over, it’s back to the same-old stereotypes and tight-knit cliques. But those who doubt the purpose of Challenge Day and feel this way simply have the wrong outlook. The truth is, nobody ever said it would be easy. It’s going to take work. It’s going to require effort from the student body. We cannot expect Challenge Day to magically transform the school into a land of rainbows and unicorns, but the program provides an important start and foundation to make a change at Saratoga High School.

Perhaps the rest of the school won’t experience the power of the emotion and honesty experienced at Challenge Day, but that’s not necessary to start this transformation. There may not be dramatic confessions and the sharing of tissue boxes happening every day, but anyone can appreciate the opportunity to get to know an acquaintance better or sit at another table for lunch. That’s the change we need to make. Students should not be forced to follow the status quo and divide by race, interests or extracurricular activities. The goal of Challenge Day was to take the time to get out of your comfort zone and meet different people. And that is something completely realistic to duplicate in the average school day.

Already, the school has begun steps towards this change through the founding of the new “Be The Change” club. Through this new club, students hope to spread the power of what they experienced at Challenge Day. By taking this action to cement the success of the program even further, Challenge Day has the power to make a difference in the lives of those who didn’t even attend.

There may not be the environment for every student to act like this now, but that’s exactly why it is important to take the first step. The students who participated in Challenge Day have the tools to do this; now it’s their responsibility to pass this on to others. Think of it like your typical high school rumor. It starts with only a few people, but grows so quickly that the entire grade knows by lunchtime. At the final bell, practically the whole school has heard it. To make a change at our school, that is exactly what needs to happen. One person can make a difference. Eighty people taking on this challenge can change the world.

This is no wishful thinking; it’s altogether possible to achieve. Honestly, it will take effort. It may be uncomfortable. It may be scary. But the pioneers are not alone in this effort; they’ve got their 80 new friends from Challenge Day.

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