For the third consecutive year, Desert Hot Springs High School is “Breaking Down the Walls” through a comprehensive program designed to unify, empower and engage students to create a positive and supportive campus climate.

Last week, a cross section of about 150 students per day (three days total) along with 20 DHSHS peer leaders worked with a facilitator and eight DHSHS staff members – including teachers, counselors, administrators and classified staff members). The mornings were spent on team building and ice breaker exercises and activities. In the afternoon, workshops were deeper, giving students the opportunity to share more personal information to help them realize that they aren’t alone in their experiences and feelings.

“It’s very eye-opening because you get to talk to people who you don’t normally communicate with,” said Junior Nicholas Gamboa. “You have a revelation because you find out people are much more similar than you expected. It helps you realize that you’re not alone.”

“The program really allows our students an opportunity to see past the usual cliques that you find on high school campuses,” said DHSHS Principal George Bullis.  “After the Breaking Down the Walls week, there is always an increased acceptance, friendliness, and compassion seen on our campus.  It makes all the difference in how our student and staff members build the crucial relationships needed to maintain a safe campus where students can focus their time in the classroom on learning.”

The program is presented by the Learning for Living organization. The Desert Hot Springs High event was facilitated by Stu Cabe.

“Facilitating this powerful Breaking Down the Walls event is dear to my heart, as this is a stellar way to bring together all elements of school climate in a way that makes everyone feel included and causes a domino effect of positive actions.”

“I think it the program had the perfect combination of students and staff,” said DHSHS Counselor Alisa Everett.  “The participants crossed every representative group of our population and it was good healthy interaction.  I saw the kids really open up and share—giving them a beneficial experience.”

“It was fun,” commented Freshman Hailey Campbell. “We played games I wasn’t expecting us to partake in. I met a lot of cool people during the small group portion.  The ending was somewhat sad because the questions asked were somewhat personal, but eye-opening at the same time. The event was exciting!”