Attorney General Mike Fisher and Pennsylvania Bar Association President Timothy J. Carson hosted participants from 12 Pennsylvania elementary schools as part of the fourth annual Project PEACE (Peaceful Endings through Attorneys, Children and Educators) training conference March 14-15, 2003. Pennsylvania is the second state in the nation to feature this program in an effort to reduce school violence.
Project PEACE was developed by the Temple University Beasley School of Law’s LEAP Program to teach elementary school children to peacefully resolve conflicts with fellow students. During the two-day training session, teams of principals, educators, parents, counselors and attorneys took part in role-playing activities to teach conflict resolution skills and to develop mediation programs at their individual schools.
"Project PEACE has been a success in success in schools throughout the Commonwealth," Fisher said during an announcement at The Atherton Hotel in State College. "Children cannot learn if they fear going to school. This program helps make schools safer by reducing the conflicts that lead to violence."
"The PBA is pleased to join with Attorney General Fisher in offering this peer mediation program to elementary schools again this year," said PBA President Carson. "Over the past three years we have seen how Project PEACE can make a difference in Pennsylvania schools. The schools had a reduction in violence and conflict and their students were empowered with important life-skills that promote self-esteem and problem-solving. We are anxious for this year's group of schools to gain the same opportunities."
Highlights of this year's program included mock mediations by students from Centre Elementary School in Clearfield and Juniata Valley Elementary School in Huntingdon. The students demonstrated actual mediations that had occurred as part of the Project PEACE program adopted in their schools. The training session also included exercises in constructive conflict communication, problem solving and critical thinking.
"These mock mediations are important because students in these schools will use these techniques to resolve their problems peacefully," Fisher said. By the end of the training session, schools wrote their own mediation plans to be introduced to their school boards and student bodies. Since Project PEACE was brought to Pennsylvania four years ago, dozens of elementary schools have utilitized the program to resolve conflict situations in their schools.
The 2003 schools included: Biglerville Elementary School, Biglerville, Adams County; Central Columbia Elementary School, Bloomsburg, Columbia County; Centre Hall Elementary School, Centre Hall, Centre County; Gayman Elementary School, Doylestown, Bucks County; Klein Elementary School, Erie, Erie County; Leary Elementary School, Warminster, Bucks County; Notre Dame Elementary School, East Stroudsburg, Monroe County; Resurrection Catholic School, Lancaster, Lancaster County; Sadie Tanner Mossell Alexander Partnership School, Philadelphia; Union City Elementary School, Union City, Erie County; Wallingford Elementary School, Wallingford, Delaware County; Windber Area Elementary School, Windber, Somerset County.
For more information about Project PEACE and other law-related education programs, visit www.pabar.org/educationprograms.asp.