Bline changes the Challenge

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Freshmen students work together to solve a puzzle during the Freshman Challenge on Jan. 13. This activity was one of five problem solving and teamwork sessions the United Stated Army lead the students through. Intervention and Prevention Counselor Joan Bline, who organized the day, said the Army members intended “to show students its easier to solve problems as a team”. Photo Contributed By Jacob Guyer

The Freshman Challenge has changed in many ways since intervention and prevention Counselor Joan Bline took over about six years ago.

“We kept some of the original principles and integrity of the program but changed it to have more of a team building and relationship building theme,” Bline said.

The program was originally created by the Principal Student Advisory Board and later given to Bline. The program itself is based off of an MTV program called “If You Really Knew Me.” Perennial activities such as ‘Cross the Line’ and ‘The Iceberg Challenge’ originate from this program.

When I was a freshman, it was much more deep and it was hard to open up to such deep topics. This year we made sure it was comfortable and a safe place that they could open up if they wanted to,” activity leader Kate DeLon (12) said.

Bline’s goal this year was to lighten the atmosphere by adding more team building activities. A team of representatives from the United States Army provided activities in team building in the west gym.

“We wanted to get the freshman class to bond and be more united as a class,” DeLon said.

Beside new team building, other new areas have been explored in the program’s recent years. Changes including guest speakers, videos, and sections on making good choices have been added to the program in recent years.

“I added an entire station on alcohol and drugs to have students making choices,” Bline said, “I believe it is important to talk about these topics.”

Even with addition of new stations, the program is still constantly changing, meaning there are more changes yet to happen.

“[I spend] twenty to thirty hours of having discussions with Oakwood students and listening to their likes and dislikes of the program as well as my personal concerns,” Bline said.

A survey, distributed by Bline every year, is used to help her tweak the program. This year 97 percent of freshmen students felt that the program was good or great.

Students responded with varying opinions on the success of the program, ranging from: “I didn’t learn anything about my classmates that I didn’t already know,” to “There is nothing you need to do to improve the program, it was great.”

The survey also recorded the student’s prefered activities, with the United States Army’s team building activity coming in first. Also on the survey was an open ended question, asking: “What did you enjoy most about the day and what can we do to improve the Freshman Challenge?”

Bline said, “I am always open to tweak the program.”

By Quinn Murray

murray.quinn@oakwoodschools.org

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