Changing environments causes alterations in SOS presentations

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Shelley Bustamante

Carlmont student Emma Mulders presents to the freshmen class on the topic of LGBTQ+.

Carlmont’s Students Offering Support (SOS) program recently changed some presentations to address new challenges students face right now. 

SOS, a program at Carlmont High School, is designed for students to help their peers through shared problems and situations. Students in SOS regularly present to the Life Skills classes at Carlmont about suicide prevention, eating disorders, academic stress and anxiety, unhealthy relationships, drug and alcohol use, and LGBTQ+. Presenters share their personal stories and experiences. 

These presentations aim to give students the resources, skills, and support they need to deal with challenging situations. However, the Life Skills teachers and Shelley Bustamante, SOS coordinator, made certain modifications to this year’s presentation lineup. 

“The Life Skills teachers didn’t ask for the child abuse presentation this year, so we incorporated child abuse into unhealthy relationships,” said Bustamante.

Previous presentations have included child abuse, divorce, self-esteem, hate crimes, and sexual assault; however, each has either been eliminated or incorporated into other presentations based on decisions made by Life Skills teachers and Bustamante. Child abuse is the most recent presentation to be removed.

According to Eric Perkins, a Life Skills teacher, one of the Life Skills teachers meets with Bustamante every year to decide which presentations to include based on what they believe is most relevant to students right now.

There’s no way in a year that we could do all of them. We tried this year to be really conscious of what would fit and be meaningful to students at the moment”

— Eric Perkins

“There’s no way in a year that we could do all of them. We tried this year to be really conscious of what would fit and be meaningful to students at the moment,” Perkins said.

Another Life Skills teacher, Michelle McKee, agreed with Perkins’s thoughts on the decision process.

“The Life Skills teachers sat down and looked at all the different presentations, what would fit well, and we tried to be really purposeful in our planning,” said McKee.

The Life Skills teachers declined to make a further on-the-record comment about why the topic of child abuse was specifically removed.

Bustamante is unsure what other presentations could be altered in the future. She intends to ensure the core messages of the program continue to be covered, but at the end of the day, the Life Skills teachers get the final say in what gets presented to their students, according to Bustamante and Perkins.

Someone who found support from the presentations is Nefeli Tsangaropoulos, a recently graduated Carlmont student who dealt with child abuse through the support of SOS.

“SOS made me feel like I wasn’t alone. It also helped me realize I was in an abusive household, and it really helped me get through all of the stuff I was going through. I love presenting to the freshmen, especially about child abuse, because I think it is so important that kids learn the signs of abuse,” Tsangaropoulos said. 

SOS made me feel like I wasn’t alone. It also helped me realize I was in an abusive household, and it really helped me get through all of the stuff I was going through. I love presenting to the freshmen, especially about child abuse, because I think it is so important that kids learn the signs of abuse.”

— Nefeli Tsangaropoulos

She got involved in SOS her freshman year and continues to present with the program to this day. Tsangaropoulos hopes the new lineup doesn’t take away the empowering impacts of previous presentations. 

“Seeing the child abuse presentation as a freshman really changed me and many others,” Tsangaropoulos said. “I think not having it be its own presentation not only takes away from the topic itself but also doesn’t allow as much information to be shared.”

The concerns expressed by Tsangaropoulos came true; students viewing the new presentations noticed that they weren’t specific to the critical issue. 

“Child abuse was talked about on one of the slides, but there weren’t any personal stories,” said Adam Smith, a freshman. He noticed the only reference to child abuse was in the presentation about unhealthy relationships.

Bustamante is proud of Carlmont’s unique SOS program. She’s always looking for ways to expand the program by presenting to other schools and encouraging her students to become certified as mindfulness educators. 

The SOS program continues to support and aid the Carlmont community, despite the constantly changing nature of the world and its problems. Students in SOS will continue presenting to freshmen in the fall and schedule presentations for juniors and seniors later in the year.