by August Barham and Declan Lusk
The mysteries of SPIRIT have been uncovered.
The SPIRIT program is a component of the Community Relations Service (CRS), a division of the U.S. Department of Justice. This program offers services to state and local officials to help resolve and prevent racial and ethnic conflict, violence, or civil disorder.
Dr. Jeremy Gibbs, Chief Academic Officer of Transylvania County Schools and BHS interim principal, explained that community members contacted the U.S Department of justice concerning what they considered racial conflicts both at Brevard High School and in the Brevard community. The department then contacted the superintendent and Gibbs, suggesting a SPIRIT program at Brevard High School.
“SPIRIT was something the Justice Department had in their toolbox, but it turned even more positive into anon-punitive problem solving program,” said Gibbs. “I was very glad that students were able to shift from some negative events into positive problem solving.”
In early October, a group of about 70 students from Brevard High School was invited to the Brevard Music Center to participate in the program.
“I was impressed that our students were able to maturely and articulately present problems often concerning certain administration that was actually present, said Gibbs. “That is a difficult thing to do.”
On the first day, the participating students were separated into groups by grade. Each group went to their own work area and brainstormed some problems they have noticed at Brevard High School. Grievances ranged from dress code to the most popular problem, PRIDE lunch. After these individual sessions, the group reconvened to the main area and presented the problems they had identified to school administrators.
On the second day, students were rearranged into random groups containing a variety of grade levels. The groups were tasked with providing solutions to the problems identified the day before.
“[I] felt like it was a good opportunity to fix problems for our schools and get to know the administration better,” sophomore Cole Carroll said.
The major question from student body now is whether SPIRIT will change the lunch schedule and how?
“Some sort of change needs to be made to the lunch program,” said Gibbs. “That was universally agreed upon in the group.”
Gibbs has had experience with the lunch schedule and is prepared to listen to the entire student body and to parents and staff to create a schedule that works for everyone.
“I have experience with the lunch schedule in that in 2011 we worked together to implement SMART lunch,” said Gibbs. “The key to that success was that I worked with students, parents, and everybody to collaborate and develop that schedule and it was very well supported and implemented quite well.”
Gibbs believes SPIRIT turned out to be a success at Brevard High School.
“I was overall impressed with the mature performance of our students in identifying and attempting to solve major issues at Brevard High School,” said Gibbs.