Out of the five leadership groups on the campus of Corona del Mar (CdM), Peer Assistance Leadership is one of the most important. Otherwise known as PAL, this group of 32 students help other students around school and in their community. The group is largely recognized for the weeks they create throughout the year.
“The various weeks PAL host help students learn more about problems such as substance abuse, depression or suicide, and offers an extended hand for any students on campus affected by such problems,” senior Cameron Schank said.
“I think PAL is so important to the campus and school due to the awareness it [creates] about prevalent problems that high schoolers face, and solutions to those problems,” Schank said. PAL has helped with student awareness, showing that a student may be going through the same thing that another student is going through.
“Our hope [for PAL] is to make it so that anyone can come express a concern or ask for help with anything,” senior Brooklen Geland said.
Why did you join PAL?
“I joined PAL to promote and support a cause that is really important to me, and to have a group of people who share my values and will support me in those.” – Geland
“I joined PAL because I wanted to be able to help make the CdM campus a better place. I also joined because PAL gives you amazing opportunities to meet new people. Joining PAL was one of the best choices I have made and it truly changed my high school experience for the better.” – Caroline Wood, senior.
“I joined PAL because of how closely my core values and the values of the club line up. PAL however gave me the opportunity to spread the message to a much broader audience, and get my words out.” – Nik Hoffman, sophomore.
Red Ribbon Week – In the month of October
Red Ribbon Week focuses on drug and alcohol use and how it affects the students of CdM. Throughout the week, PAL hands out bracelets that give a student discounts to Blaze Pizza and Bowl of Heaven if wearing them. They also have a banner later on in the week, for people to sign to be drug and alcohol free.
Yellow Ribbon Week – In the month of April
In the second to last week of the year, PAL hosts Yellow Ribbon Week. The week brings suicide awareness to students. It helps them realize that suicide is not the only way out and that there are other options.
“Our goal of the week is to spread awareness of how common suicide is and the necessary steps that we as a community should take to prevent suicide and help those struggling with depression and suicide,” said Geland.
Suicide Hotline: 1-800-273-8255
Walk In My Shoes Week – In the month of March
The newest addition to the weeks is Walk In My Shoes. The week helps students by putting them into the perspective of others on campus. Students were able to send in their personal stories to PAL, which were either posted on Instagram or Facebook.
“I was amazed by how willing and open many of the students were, sharing some of their darkest memories, deepest thoughts, funny quirks, and life changing stories,” senior Gabby Lau said.
The week helped create an environment of unity within the student body and sent the message that it is good to be different.
Look Up Week – In the month of November
Look Up Week teaches students to have face-to-face chats and build a connection with their fellow students by not looking at their electronic devices.
“In our generation, technology has been very prevalent so [the week] encourages people to break those social norms of always being on [their] phones or social media,” senior Sabrina Burkholder said.
Last year, the week also helped bring awareness to students on how looking at a phone can cause life changing issues, such as texting and driving.
Friendship Week – In the month of May
To help celebrate friendships around the school, PAL created Friendship Week. Each day of the week consists of an action a student has to do, such as compliment other students or give hand hugs.
“This week’s goal is to give everyone an opportunity to take time and really appreciate their friends and tell them how thankful they are for them as well as promoting new friendships,” Wood said.
Sea King Camp and New Student Luncheon
Aside from the weeks that they host throughout the school year, PAL also helps out with Sea King Camp and the New Student Luncheon at the beginning of the year. With these two events, PAL is able to help the new students become comfortable in the new environment and make new friends.
“To help them feel less like a new kid, we would take a look at their schedule and find classes that we have friends in and start making connections,” Lau said.