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Educational Theatre Program Helps Transform a South San Francisco School Campus

Karen L Chin is a copywriter for Kaiser Permanente Educational Theatre and an advocate of using the arts to educate. You can follow Kaiser Permanente Educational Theatre on Twitter @KPETNCAL.

Students at Los Cerritos Elementary School in South San Francisco are making fewer trips to the principal’s office for discipline, thanks to the school’s focus on creating a safer, more positive environment on campus.

Through the support of Peace Signs, a theatre performance and classroom curriculum program provided by Kaiser Permanente’s Educational Theatre, the school is helping students learn ways of dealing with conflict and anger in more positive ways.

“Having their presence here at the school has really made such a difference,” says Kennelyn Celeste, the school’s principal.

5Very early in the school year, Peace Signs staff worked with Celeste to prepare for an Educational Theatre performance at Los Cerritos. Teachers were provided with classroom activities to use with their classes before and after the Peace Signs performance. Upper grade students then watched the performance and participated in roleplay workshops with the performer/educators to practice skills modeled in Peace Signs.

South San Francisco Mayor Karyl Matsumoto attended the Peace Signs performance. She shared her experience and lauded the program at a subsequent city council meeting, “My shout out is to Kaiser… It was really quite impressive.”

“It really has given our school tools… given our students tools,” Celeste explains. While some of the tools are visible and tangible, like Peace Signs “Stop, Think, Act” posters posted around campus, the messages of Peace Signs are less tangible, but powerful tools that the school uses regularly. When a conflict arises, staff and students use skills and language taught by Peace Signs to calm down, think about feelings and channel their emotions in a more positive direction.

Students now know the Peace Signs chant, “Stop, Think, Act. Make a positive impact. Stop and Think before you Act. Make a positive impact.” And Celeste herself has been known to use this chant and other Peace Signs messages over the public address system. She even intertwines the school’s “word of the day” with Peace Signs messages.

Celeste was so enthusiastic about the impact Peace Signs has been having on Los Cerritos that she invited the Educational Theatre troupe to return. They taught students a Peace Signs stoplight dance to remind them of the stoplight conflict resolution model.

Los Cerritos Elementary School is one of 60 schools that benefitted from Peace Signs in 2014. You can read about how Peace Signs also made an impact on Sequoia Elementary School in Manteca, California elsewhere on this blog.

Visit the Northern California Kaiser Permanente Educational Theatre website for more information about bringing Peace Signs to your school.

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