All 200 Pilot Rock junior and senior high school students squeezed into the gym, forming a giant figure 8. Each circle had an innerand outer rank, so students stood in pairs.

Speaker Geoff McLachlan told each pair to lock arms on one side, and hold out their elbows on the other side. Then he told them, on his mark, to run around the gym and touch as many blue objects as they could in thirty seconds.

Pilot Rock’s school colors are blue and gold. There is a lot of blue in the gym.

When McLachlan said, “Go!” the students erupted in activity, diving in awkward pairs at blue lines on the floor. They climbed the bleachersto blue banisters. They ran to any of the four blue walls.

After 30 seconds, they were back in their circles, eyes on McLachlan.

This was just one of a handful games he had the students play over a 90-minute time period Tuesday morning.

It’s all part of his program, called 4-Ward Momentum. The school’s anti-bullying club, Project Zero, brought him to spend the day at the school.

McLachlan said the philosopher Plato believed the real way to get to know people was to watch them play.

“He could know more about you by watching you play than by talking to you for hours and hours on end,” McLachlan said. “When I watched you play I could figure out what your school is like, figure you out as individuals.”

After each exercise, he would tell each inner and outer circle to walk forward a number of steps. That way partners teamed up randomly. No one got to pick their friends.

While the elbow exercise was perhaps the most active, McLachlan also had the students talk about themselves. They gave their name, their favorite color, the number of siblings in their family.

All this work was meant to get the teens to know each other better.

“The more you know about someone, the more likely you are to treat them with kindness,” McLachlan said later. “Little pieces of information make you know more and make it easier to be nice.”

Pilot Rock is a fairly small school, with about 200 students over six grades. McLachlan has given his presentation across the country to big and small schools alike.

Big schools can be tough because not everyone knows each other. Small schools can have the opposite problem. Everyone can knows each other too well.

“That can be nice, but everyone knows your business,”?he said. “You can all be friends, but it can be difficult for the same reason.”

But he was happy with the interaction he saw between Pilot Rock students.

“I liked what I saw. I really liked what I saw,” he told the students toward the end of the morning’s activities. He liked that when they partnered up at random, the students were OK with it. “You didn’t care who that person was. You shook their hand and took a second to introduce yourself. I love it because that says a lot about your school.”

Project Zero’s club co-captains Joey GrosJacques and Taryn Ostrom both said they were happy to see their work have such a great outcome. Ostrom was glad to give fellow students a day away from regular school work.

GrosJacques said most of the kids were having a good time. Ostrom said some kids weren’t that into it, but she hoped they would still get the message.

In the afternoon, McLachlan adjusted the activities, asking harder, more personal questions. He asked if they had a loved one they trusted. He asked if they had ever lost someone. He asked about divorce.

Again, he wanted to increase communication between kids. He said it wasn't exposing the kids’ troubles publicly. It was telling other students what was going on in their lives. It was one more way, when a student sees other students in the hall, to remember they’re a person and understand what they’re going through.


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