Challenge Day is coming back to AHS for three days on October 15-17. According to the official Challenge Day website, the program  “promotes students to demonstrate the possibility of love and connection through the celebration of truth, diversity and full expression.”

Last year the program was a success, with a total of 135 students participating over a span of two days. Students were gathered for the entire school day in the Dunn Gym, where they engaged in a variety of activities that “challenged” them to break out of their comfort zone. This year over 300 kids are expected to attend the three days.

Toni Kirby, a social worker at AHS, is the one who brought challenge day to AHS last year. “For years I had some concern for the social climate of the high school, and when I found out about challenge day, I was blown away,” said Kirby.

Also new this year, students who participated in the program last year are invited to attend one of the three days as a teen leader. “The goal of the teen leader is to encourage other students to share and help create an energetic and positive environment during challenge day,” according to a form some students received in their first block classes two weeks ago.

Challenge Day Facts:

Since 1987, Challenge Day has served more than 1,000,000 youth in 400 cities, 47 U.S states, and five provinces of Canada.

Challenge Day is a 501(c)(3) non-profit that provides powerful one-day programs as a service to junior high schools, middle schools, and high schools with students in grades 7-12. Challenge Day also serves other organizations and companies.

One Challenge Day program can serve a maximum of 100 7-12th grade teens and up to 50 adults.

Source: challengeday.org

Several students from last year’s challenge day have high hopes for this year’s day. “I hope that this year’s challenge day will bring the community at our school together even more,” said AHS senior Nicholas Wall.

Bullying remains a problem at AHS and many other schools across Massachusetts and the United States, but the challenge day program strongly believes it can lower the rate of bullying significantly.

“Challenge day is not an intellectual exercise; it gets people behind the feeling level of bullying,” added Kirby. “If kids can experience it, it creates a more powerful message to the community.”

The “Be the Change team,” headed by Ms. Kirby, meets every other Wednesday in room 370. The team strives to promote the lessons learned from Challenge Day to make the school a more thriving environment. All students are welcome to attend.

By Ian Bensley