Eighth Graders Cross the ‘Invisible Line’ Into Responsible Decision-Making

Eighth Graders Cross the ‘Invisible Line’ Into Responsible Decision-Making photo thumbnail139359

As part of the Counseling Department’s Invisible Line program, Rye Neck Middle School eighth grade students collaborated in groups and participated in interactive activities on Nov. 6 to reflect on values within their belief system.

Throughout the learning experience, the students defined 10 values – creativity, happiness, love, wealth, respect, friendship, popularity, integrity, acceptance and power – before participating in a mock values auction where they bid on items, or values, based on their bidding strategy, or belief system. 

“The purpose of the Values Auction was to have students participate in an interactive group activity to bid on values that the groups identified as important,” high school counselor Frank Gizzo said. “Over time, we are molded by our values. The influences that impact our value system can come from anywhere: family, friends, school, work, sports, religion or media. Furthermore, our values can change over time depending on the experiences we have in our lives.” 

Gizzo said the activities were designed to help students recognize how the prioritization of values may vary from person to person, and how to collaborate in a group when each person has a different perspective.

“As facilitators of the activity, we focus on how people within the group work together, communicate and ultimately arrive at a bidding strategy,” said Gizzo, who facilitated the activities along with high school counselors Susan Hannon and Amanda Mahncke and middle school counselors Samantha Chu and Meegan Lawlor. “We look to see how students use conflict resolution techniques when disagreements arise, especially as their personal processes or values may conflict with that of the rest of the group.”

For the second part of the program on Nov. 15, the students will discuss how values connect to goals, expectations, pressures, relationships and responsibilities. The boys’ groups will be presented with various social media scenarios and challenged to physically represent decision-making processes that could have someone cross the line and not even know it. The girls’ groups will engage in a conversation about pressures and expectations and tie it back to redeemable values and behaviors. 

“The Values Auction ties together what is important to a person and how that impacts their decision-making processes,” Gizzo said. “The boys will line up across the room and listen to a scenario. They will advance one step every time they think a line has been crossed in the situation presented to them. The important parts of this exercise will be the reflection and application in everyday life.”

Chu said the girls will reflect on the previous session's values auction activity as it relates to real life values.

“The goal of the discussion is to connect values with actions and the higher expectations in high school and beyond in the real world,” she said. 

Principal Dr. Eric Lutinski said the sessions were part of the school’s ongoing efforts to develop students’ social and emotional learning through group work and reflection as they learn to become responsible young adults in their community.