5/7/2013 5:00:00 PM Palo Verde High School awarded major grant
Special to the Times
BLYTHE - Palo Verde Valley High School (PVHS) has been awarded a Safe and Supportive Schools (S3) grant, $125,000 in each of three years, to help provide safe conditions on the campus and promote to a culture of caring and concern. Longtime Palo Verde Unified School District (PVUSD) staff member Lisa Schlehuber has been appointed the grant coordinator.
The S3 grant was given to the school and school district based in part on the results of the Healthy Kids Survey given each spring to students throughout California enrolled in grades five, seven, nine, and eleven. Parents and teachers are also provided an opportunity to respond to survey questions. The survey provides information on how school-age youth cope with personal setbacks, their sense of safety while attending school and the conditions that contribute to feelings of campus safety. Additionally, the survey polls teens on the frequency and degree of risky behaviors such as drug and alcohol abuse.
S3 grant money will provide the necessary financial support to bring about the gradual and sustainable changes that contribute to safe and supportive schools; not an overnight fix, according to Schlehuber.
Though S3 funds will be used for a variety of activities, they won't be used to pay for the new fence now installed at the school or for additional security personnel, according to PVUSD Acting Superintendent Bob Bilek.
"We are fortunate to qualify for this grant; we want to spend the money on impacting students," said Bilek.
Schlehuber says part of the money will be spent supporting teenagers who are facing personal challenges, and on all teenagers who are making the decisions that come with growing up. To date, Palo Verde Valley High School has recruited students to serve as Safe School Ambassadors, trained other students to serve as peer mediators, and provided the means for some to attend Youth Council Advisory meetings in Riverside.
Some students have attended field trips where students heard messages and received lessons on tolerance. Additionally, PVHS staff members have received training on bully intervention, as well as building positive relationships with students. Student lessons on drug and alcohol awareness as well as abuse prevention will also be provided by using the S3 grant monies.
Last month grant monies were used in part to send some PVHS students to visit the Los Angeles Museum of Tolerance, a trip that profoundly affected most of the participants. Feedback indicates they were moved by the experience and wanting to return with their families, and several students have asked Schlehuber to take other students on the same trip.
"It made me cry," said one student. "It was hard to understand how people could be so cruel."
Schlehuber said that other trips are planned and that this month some students will be visiting universities. School assemblies are being planned as well. The students are also being taught about the dangers of substance abuse including the risks of alcohol and driving.
"Our goal is to have students consider their attitudes and practices, as well as to build a culture of caring for our school," said Schlehuber. "And most importantly, we want to keep the students safe."
The S3 funds and the Grant Plan are overseen by a committee comprised of parents, students, school staff members and Coordinator Schlehuber.
Anyone with questions about the S3 grant, the Healthy Kids Survey, or with suggestions to promote Palo Verde Valley High School as a Safe and Supportive School, is asked to contact Lisa Schlehuber at the school, 760-922-7148.