By Aundreana Jones-Poole
Holt Journal Staff Reporter
Are out-of-school suspensions an effective way of handling adolescent misbehavior, or is there a better alternative? The Restorative Justice Initiative is a non-profit program that was developed by the Resolution Services Center of Central Michigan and serves local school districts by helping students with conflict resolution and preventative tools. The program was founded in 2004 in Lansing, and currently serves multiple schools in different districts, including Hope Middle School in Holt.
“It is not uncommon that districts will have restorative practice programs,” said Greta Trice, Executive Director at the Resolutions Service Center. “Holt has a facilitator that we train and monitor at the school.”
The program aims to bring people, both victim and offender, together and teach them how to handle and resolve their conflicts. The program uses effective conferencing and “peace circles” — which brings together victims and offenders to give the offender a deeper understanding of the consequences and the victim’s own humanity — to solve conflicts and reduce the number of days students are suspended from school.
On a day featuring four NCAA Tournament games and three NBA games, Hope Middle School put together a crowd for an afternoon of basketball that impressed even the high school basketball players in attendance. Hope held its annual March madness event March 28, starting with a school-wide talent show and ending with a basketball tournament played before a packed house. The event is designed to build school spirit and foster a sense of community, Hope teacher Joe Cleary said, and is held on the final day before spring break every year. At 1:15 p.m., the entire student body gathered in the smaller of Hope’s two gyms for the talent show. The show featured 38 acts, with the talents including singing, dancing, tumbling and playing instruments.
Rarely is a middle school basketball court reserved for math. Hope Middle School’s Feb. 25 Math Carnival was an exception to that rule, however. Parents and students gathered in Hope’s gym at 6 p.m. for a night of math-based games. Everyone who attended was given $20 in fake money to play the games, and at the end of the night, players traded in their funny money for raffle tickets.