On January 22, 2013, District 211 Academy North, a therapeutic day high school, held a Restorative Justice Training which focused on utilizing peace circles as a way of maintaining connections amongst staff and students at a school wide level. The entire Academy North Staff, six Academy North students, and staff from surrounding schools participated in the training. The trainers, Christie Agaiby and Carlos Rodriguez, were able to bring topics of community building, peace circles, the teenage brain, and student led conflict resolution to life through experiential exercises.
The main focus was twofold: training students in Peer Jury and giving staff an understanding of the Restorative Justice philosophy. The six students who participated were Cameron Nolen, Jamar Kelsey, Coya Shorter, Peter Koutroumbis, Markeece Curry, and Dustin Moore. Coya said, “I like peer jury because if I get in trouble from my principal or administrator I would get an in-school suspension or out-school suspension, and would have to miss all my classes and work. But, going in front of peer jury helps you understand your mistakes. It gives you a voice in front of your peers and the student you have a conflict with”
Cameron said, “I never sat in such a big circle before. I really learned a lot, like how to make my classmates feel welcome and how to ask the right questions to help them solve their own problems.” When asked if he would like to help the school with conflict resolution, he replied, “Most definitely.” Our Restorative Justice Coordinators plan on reuniting Academy North Peer Jurors with Peer Jurors at Evanston Township High School for a booster training in early February.