United By Peer

United+By+Peer

By Anya Sczerzenie

Tuscarora’s PEER organization hosted Unity Week, a school-wide spirit week, from March 27th to 31st. PEER, which stands for “Positive Experiences in Educational Relationships”, is Tuscarora’s student conflict mediation group which sponsors mental health, anti-bullying, and acceptance-related campaigns and activities. Unity Week is one of PEER’s traditional main events. “This week is meant to create a united school,” said senior PEER member Meghan White. “It should help people bond over shared interests and hopefully help [them] understand each other better.”

The events of Unity Week started the Friday before– with a flurry of inspiring quotes, written on multicolored, heart-shaped pieces of paper and taped to almost every locker in the hallways. Printed on the back of each heart was a list of the coming spirit days to encourage students to participate. This act may seem like a simple “random act of kindness”, but actually required a lot of preparation by PEER members. “We started the hearts last month,” said Anissa Boissiere, a senior and member of PEER. “Everyone had to cut out fourteen pages of hearts and write their quotes by hand on every heart.” The 1,600 hearts, which could be seen scattered around the school for the next few days, signaled the beginning of Unity Week.

 On Monday, the spirit week began with a “Comfy Day” on Monday, in which students were encouraged to wear sweatpants and other lounge clothes to “dress comfortably around [their] peers”. This day highlighted the theme of the week– “Express your comfort!”. The rest of the spirit days were classic days that had been used in Tuscarora spirit weeks before: Tuesday’s Decade Day, Wednesday’s Western Day, and Thursday’s USA day– also called “Unity Day”, when students were encouraged to wear red, white, and blue.

Friday March 31st was the week’s main event, “Mix It Up Day”;  where in addition to encouraging students to wear tie-dye and mismatched colors, PEER held a mixed-up lunch in the cafeteria. Bunches of balloons were placed on tables, and students were given a random colored card when they entered the cafeteria and sat at the table with the corresponding-colored balloons. This was another event that required lots of preparation- to get ready for this lunch, PEER students had to fill up 240 balloons, write “icebreaker questions” on them, and spend a whole Flex block setting up. This lunch was meant to take the students out of their usual friend groups and allow them to meet people they wouldn’t have talked to otherwise, and it even included a dance contest to help students break out of their shells. “I hope they [the students] get out of their comfort zone and sit with someone new,” said PEER member Claire Smith. “It’s 30 minutes of their time, and it could mean the world to  someone else.”