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Peace at hand

Anh Nguyen

BURBANK -- The PeaceBuilders are coming to Burbank.

At a time when school districts around the country are facing new

discipline challenges, the Burbank Unified School District will implement

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a program to teach kids how to resolve conflicts on their own.

City and school officials turned out to welcome the PeaceBuilders

program at its kickoff orientation party at the Burbank Central Library.

PeaceBuilders teaches students to live by its five precepts: giving up

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put-downs, righting wrongs, noticing hurts, praising people and seeking

wise people.

The program was chosen by the Mayor’s Youth Task Force over many other

conflict resolution programs because it focused on prevention rather than

intervention, said Burbank Unified Superintendent David Aponik.

City Councilman David Golonski said the seed for PeaceBuilders was

planted when former Mayor George Batty held a series of youth summits

following the murder of John Burroughs High School student Adam Smith at

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Burbank High School in July 1998.

“It’s an investment in our youth,” Golonski said.

Before PeaceBuilders is implemented next year, school, city and

community officials will go through a four-hour workshop conducted by

Heartsprings, Inc., the program’s founder.

“This was not born out of the perception that we have major

problems... (It was) born of the concept of whole community support,”

said Assistant Superintendent Gregory Bowman.

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Michael Krupnick, the president of Heartsprings, Inc., said

PeaceBuilders began about six years ago to teach kids to resolve

conflicts before bad habits develop.

It is “a simple way of life... It feels really good and it gets

results,” Krupnick said.

Five students from Theodore Roosevelt School in Paramount attended the

Burbank orientation to testify to the program’s effectiveness. They told

the local officials that PeaceBuilders has changed lives in the four

years it has been at their school.

“It’s making my life easier because ... I have pride in myself (now),”

said eighth-grader Candice Townsend, a peace mediator who helps other

students solve their conflicts.

Classmate and fellow peace mediator Louis Saucedo agreed. He said that

without PeaceBuilders, he would probably be in a gang rather than making

new friends, learning how to treat others well and spreading peace.

“It kind of changed my life,” he said.


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