Each year, the PAVE Peer Leaders at Waltham High School choose Officers who meet an additional time each week to plan and prepare for club meetings and to develop additional facilitation and curriculum planning skills. This year there were three Officers- Rachel Cosgrove, Dylan Garcia-Vasser, and Krystal Lwanga. All three will graduate next week, so we spent some time reflecting on some questions at our last officer meeting together. The Officers discussed what they’re hoping for, where they’ve been, and where they’re going next.
What is your vision for PAVE?
Our goal is that PAVE gets bigger- that it becomes a “thing” equivalent to hockey, football, or Freshman Mentors [a well-established mentoring program at WHS]. Basically, our vision is that everyone knows about PAVE. There will be a lot of turnout at events. People will reply and come to events.
Another part of our vision is that PAVE will be bigger than just our school. Maybe it will become a Massachusetts law that schools need to have clubs like PAVE that provide opportunities for other teens to become leaders and educate their peers about healthy relationships and dating violence. As these groups develop and grow, we will have opportunities to meet with these other schools and collaborate and learn from each other.
We also could have our own space at the new school, where we can stay. It could be like a meditation room that is quiet. Everyone would feel included. If you have a study block or free period, people could go chill there.
What are our goals for Waltham High School?
One of our goals is that people will notice PAVE more. Also, people will take knowledge from PAVE and use it in real life. We can teach them stuff, but people need to make an effort to use that outside of the classroom.
Another goal could be to have a PAVE class, like required sophomore comp [a required course at the high school]. These topics are important for people to know. In a class for credit, people would have to take it seriously. We also could incorporate the lessons more consistently into health classes.
What do we (ourselves and our community) need to learn more about?
We need to learn about gentrification and other cultures. Waltham has many cultures. It is diverse but can be segregated.
What did we take away from our experience with PAVE?
On one hand, we took away all the information, including signs and types of abuse. We took away leadership, which was sometimes silent leadership. For example, if someone takes a picture [that is inappropriate, disrespectful, or uncomfortable], we can speak up [“leadership” is often thought of as someone speaking loudly in front of a crowd but commonly takes the form of modeling small, respectful behaviors]. We also use PAVE in our own relationships. PAVE has helped us become more socially aware and understanding of the importance of tone and word choice. Now we realize that people may not think how we think.
How will we take PAVE with us? How will we apply PAVE to our lives?
We’re going to college, and you hear stories of dating violence on college campuses. We will be conscious going in. We’ll also take PAVE with us in our future relationships with people, whether that’s family or children. We find ourselves speaking up in some situations, or doing the simple thing and noticing something. We’re not just stopping here.
What did you learn from being an officer?
We learned how to manage time and about the work it takes to organize a group behind the scenes. We learned how to plan and organize things in an efficient way. By the end, we could put together lessons in our head. Being an officer also helped us overcome uncomfortable situations. At first, facilitating workshops wasn’t easy. Over time, by doing it, it got “less bad,” and we felt comfortable leading workshops.
What do you want to leave Waltham High School with? What are your parting thoughts?
We’ve taken a lot from WHS and we want to leave all our memories. The fun times we’ve had, some friends and people who were good, the big, important things. These memories and moments stay with you.
This is us. We are PAVE.