By: Kirsten Thomas
On Saturday, December 10, Bellbrook Supportive Peers hosted its second annual Christmas Spectacular event at the high school. The event drew in dozens of families and smiles.
Volunteers began setting up at 8:30am for the event, which ran from 10am-12pm. Just like last year, Santa and his elves made an appearance in addition to the variety of craft stations and games available for students. Senior Karen Sutterlin landed the job of being Santa’s “official helper,” wearing the lime green elf costume worn by graduate Sam Borsch last year. Hot chocolate and donuts were provided and a magician performed a show for the kids.
Before the event, Lead Peers took a trip to Kings Island where they picked up a car load of stuffed animals that were donated to the event. After visiting Santa, little ones could pick out a toy to take home.
Each year, Supportive Peers does a few seasonal events to help foster relationships between high school students and their peers outside of the classroom. They’re meant to be a fun time. The organization’s advisor and co-founder Tess Rivero has dedicated countless hours to the program in addition to her responsibilities as a teacher and National Honor Society advisor, along with teacher Debbie Franz.
Being part of Supportive Peers has been as valuable to high school students as their younger counterparts. Each week, students spend quite a few hours with their peers, and it’s fulfilling, but not for the commitment-shy.
Most high school peers give up their study halls to go be a friend to their peers. Senior Acey Faulkner is in her second year with her current peer, and she has gotten close with his entire family. She never expected to be the one learning from her peer. “I feel that as much as I help him, he helps me so much more,” Faulkner said. “I can’t imagine what my life would be like if I didn’t join the program.”
Senior Samantha Goodwin shares a similar sentiment. “Every day my peer jumps up to meet me when I arrive and is so happy,” Goodwin said. “I’m glad I can make a difference in his day, no matter how small it is, and it has definitely changed my life too. I think about him so much and always look forward to hanging out.”
“My own son has grown so much by being around his peer Emma, and all of the high schoolers,” Rivero said. “His confidence has increased, and he knows more people than I do! I never thought I’d see him walk in a room and greet people like he’s the mayor.”
Rivero says she is amazed by the continued selflessness of everyone involved in Supportive Peers and their events. “You all have changed my life and that of my child…and many, many others,” Rivero said. “The positive ripple effect of SP will be felt for many years to come.”