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The Current

Upcoming program aims to break social barriers

Bear River’s Team CORE, including Dr. Amy Besler, Sophomore Johnny Carillo, Junior Marie-Claire Desplanke, Sophomore Leo Jackson, and Junior Wyatt Sikora discuss the upcoming Breaking Down the Walls program as Ms. California Jillian Smith observes. Photo by McKenna Hisaw

The time has come again. Bruins will soon be participating in the four-day congregation of Breaking down the Walls, taking place on March 5-7.  

Principal Dr. Amy Besler explained how she felt the first time she participated in the program at Bear River, shortly after becoming the principal that same year.

“Yes, we hosted Breaking Down the Walls not long into my first year as principal at Bear River,” Dr. Besler said. “It was an amazing experience that really help me connect with students and staff members. I have participated in Breaking Down the Walls at several schools over the years and have always found it to be highly rewarding, meaningful, memorable, and awesome.”

Seniors Trey Jarman and Chandler Looper commented on how this event affected them as well as it being their first year participating.

“I participated as a sophomore,” said Jarman. “It gave me an entirely new perspective on the classmates that I thought I had known for several years.”

“It didn’t seem to be very helpful or really informational; I don’t think it affected me too much at all,” said Looper.

Dr. Besler elaborated on the goals she wants Bear River and all the new students to achieve when they participate for the first time.

“The goal is to connect people outside of their normal social groups and academic and extracurricular circles,” said Dr. Besler. “We want Bear River to be a place where everyone feels safe, connected, happy, and that they belong and have support when they need it. I think we’re already a really loving family, but I hope that that feeling of love and connection will grow from this experience.”

Junior Evan Naves explained what it was like to be a Freshmen participating in Breaking Down the Walls and how he feels Freshmen and Sophomores will feel when they become a part of the exercise.

“When I started it, I first thought it was fun to do it instead of class, until it started to actually mirror some of the personal problems I had,” said Naves. “Overall it helped me. I’m excited to do it again just as a reminder. The underclassmen would be reacting like it’s another stupid event, naturally. However they may learn that this helps with whatever personal problems they have. Bear River would, in my opinion, unanimously agree that it only helps.”

Jarman and Looper both discussed how the underclassmen may think about it and how it may ultimately benefit Bear River as a whole.

“I think that the new students will be shown a whole new perspective on their friends,” said Jarman. “Perhaps they’ll find things in common with kids that they never expected. I think that Bear River always benefits from gaining more empathy. Everyone benefits from empathy.”

“For them it might be helpful, I’m not entirely sure,” said Looper. “But for me, I have known these people my whole life and, at least in the group I was in that day, I don’t feel like I learned anything super new or anything that would make me see or treat people any different. I already try to treat people the best I can anyway, although maybe the new classes who seem to not be as kind as mine could benefit from some new insights.”

Dr. Besler gave insight on what she learned and what she believes is one of the best things to take away from Breaking Down the Walls.

“I learned so much about our students on the day that I participated in Breaking Down the Walls — and I think they learned a lot about me and my life, too,” said Dr. Besler. “I was able to form some really meaningful relationships with students that day, which are still in place (and even stronger, actually) two years later. One of the best things about Breaking Down the Walls is how much you learn about other people and their life experiences and struggles. It really is eye-opening. As Phil Boyte, the creator of Breaking Down the Walls says, ‘Every person has a story.’ Once you know someone’s story, you develop so much more compassion and empathy for them.”

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Upcoming program aims to break social barriers