12/14/17 — Learning how to deal

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Learning how to deal

By Joey Pitchford
Published in News on December 14, 2017 5:50 AM

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Students from Charles B. Aycock, Eastern Wayne and Rosewood high schools participating in the Student 2 Student program demonstrate how listening to one another and having a common goal can help with achieving an inspired shared vision while untangling a human knot Wednesday at the Family Engagement and Professional Development Center.

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Eastern Wayne High School Junior Madison Agner passes a ball of yarn to Charles B. Aycock freshman Kayla Spier.

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Rosewood High School Junior Jasmine Barnes and her group make a presentation during the training session at the Family Engagement and Professional Development Center Wednesday. After reading information, they performed a skit about a group of students who decided to improve their school instead of continue doing things the way they had always been done.

Charles B. Aycock High School 10th-grader Maddy Belanger has moved eight times, across the country and across the world.

Belanger, whose father is in the Air Force, was among several students from Charles B. Aycock, Eastern Wayne High and Rosewood High who took part in a Student 2 Student training seminar Tuesday and Wednesday, where they learned ways to deal with transitioning to new schools and how to help other students going through the same thing.

Eight moves -- from Texas to Missouri, Arizona, Alaska, Florida, Georgia, Germany and then to North Carolina -- have seen her have to rebuild her life over and over again. The move to Goldsboro, she said, was the hardest.

"We moved when I was in the seventh grade, which was when I was just sort of starting to figure myself out, and that was really hard," she said. "There have been times when I hardly even unpacked."

To meet with a group of other students, many of whom had experienced similar things, was comforting, Belanger said.

The program, run by the Military Child Education Coalition, was focused on the children of active duty military members, but was also attended by students with retired military or civilian parents.

On Wednesday, the students talked with one another about what values they share, and how to deal with new situations.

Sharadiant Hamilton, a junior at Eastern Wayne High School whose father is retired from the Air Force, said that acceptance was a major theme on both days.

"We reviewed what leadership means, and we talked about how being accepting is really important to helping kids who have moved," she said. "I never really thought about how some of the military kids just lose everything when they move and have to start over."

Damonte Johnson, a junior at Charles B. Aycock, has multiple family members in the Air Force, and has moved around frequently throughout his life. He said that a good sense of humor has been a useful way to make friends wherever he ended up.

The S2S program reinforced some of the lessons he has learned as a military child.

"A lot of it is about accepting other people, trusting them," he said of the program. "It's nice to see other people who think communication and trust are important, even though a lot of us really just met."

The S2S program was funded by the Air Force this year, which made it easier to bring to Wayne County, said Jaime Livengood, Wayne County Public Schools military liaison counselor.

After the training sessions, the students are expected to bring what they learned back to their schools, where the hope is that they will build and maintain an S2S Club to support incoming military students. Debra Longley, student program manager for the Military Child Education Coalition, said the program has been successful all over the world. More important than that, though, is the impact it has on the individual kids.

"The program provides instant friendship, it's somebody to eat lunch with on that first day," she said. "Even we as adults find ourselves in those situations where we enter a new job and think, 'Where do I go?'"