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Drama project looks at healthy,
destructive behaviors for students

Story and photos
by Patricia Swan Smith

For the Pathfinder
May 18, 2000
Seeley Swan Pathfinder
Seeley Lake, Montana

The entire cast for the Wheel of Fortune and Misfortune presentation of the Peer Education Drama Project at the Seeley Swan High School- Left to right: Kelly Duntz, Tessa Hatten, Ashlea Wolf-Sherman, Emily Watson, Kristen Owens, Tiara Hatten and Autumn Biggins.

Feather Sherman Project Director


Tessa Hatten and Tiara Hatten show the students how trust and support for each other can result in positive communication.

Ashley Wolf-Sherman, left, shows the students some
nappropriate aggressive behavior with Autumn Biggins.

Seven high school students participated in a Peer Education Drama Project this year, which allowed them to use drama to learn about healthy and destructive human behaviors. The group met two hours a week to work with self-esteem, communication, sexual harassment, sexual assault and dating violence issues.

Feather Sherman of Seeley Lake was hired through a grant from Missoula County and federal funding to conduct the program.

"They learned about assertive communication, conflict resolution and peer counseling," she said. "We were able to do work on the characteristics of an abusive personality and focus on how to have positive relationships. Drama was used as a method of teaching the material through improvisation, ad lib and role playing."

The students put on a panel discussion and the Wheel of Fortune and Misfortune game show (starring Vana White and Vana Black) for the Seeley Elementary 7th and 8th grade students.

During the panel discussion, the 7th and 8th graders were able to ask questions about their curiosities or fears about going to high school. Questions ranged from what sexual abuse really is to how to handle dating problems.

The game show allowed students to answer questions of the wheels, which covered both functional and dysfunctional relationships. After the wheel was spun and the question answered by the participant, actors would then demonstrate how different communication and reactions are played out in our lives.

The Wheel of Fortune included: Honesty & Responsibility; Open Communication; Intimacy; Physical Affection; Fairness and Negotiation; Share Responsibility; Respect; and Trust and Support.

The Wheel of Misfortune included: Intimidation; Sexual Abuse; Physical Abuse; Threats; Domination; Humiliation; Possessiveness; and Minimization and Blame.

Through the game, the students learned the following facts:

The United States has the highest rate of teen pregnancy.

Twenty percent of college age females have an eating disorder such as anorexia or bulimia.

Sixty-two percent of 10 to 16 year olds said that sex on television influenced their peers to have sex when they were too young.

Sexual harassment is any unwelcome, unwanted pressure, verbal, visual or physical contact of a sexual nature.

Spreading sexual rumors about someone may be considered sexual harassment.

Some unwanted sexually-oriented jokes are examples of sexual harassment according to the Seeley Lake Elementary Sexual Harassment/Intimidation Policy.

The first action that should be taken when a student feels he or she may have been harassed is to inform the individual that his or her behavior is unwelcome, offensive or inappropriate. Don't assume or hope the problem will go away.

Students who believe they may have been harassed should contact the school counselor, the Title 9 Coordinator or the principal.

common type of harassment reported.

In 1997, Montana had one rape or attempted rape occur ever 38 hours, 15 minutes.

Directly or indirectly, sexual harassment is humiliating and degrading to everyone and if affects both males and females.

Putting a hand on someone's shoulder can be a form of sexual harassment.

"I think the program has been a tremendous success," Sherman said. "They will be making an educational video at Missoula Cable Access TV in May, which will be used with counselors, teachers and students to teach other groups about positive communication."

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