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'Breaking down the walls' at Oologah-Talala High School

Posted at 5:02 PM, Sep 04, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-04 23:03:16-04

OOLOGAH, Okla. -- Students at Oologah-Talala high school are spending Wednesday and Thursday in the gymnasium participating in a program called Breaking Down the Walls in an effort to unify students and prevent bullying.

"Raise your hand if you think people will like you better if they really understood who you were," the leader of Breaking Down the Walls asked students on Wednesday.

Self-esteem, depression, and eating disorders were just a few of the many heavy topics discussed at the high school.

"It just really showed me empathy, like putting myself in other people’s shoes and I just really couldn’t believe some of the stuff that’s happened to kids," said Garrison.

There were tears, hugs, and a lot of eye opening experiences for the students.

"There’s 10s, 20s, 30s of kids walking out there and looking at their students eye to eye and telling them this is where I come from, this happened to me," said Garrison.

A former Broken Arrow teacher led the assembly. Half the school got together from freshmen to seniors, and participated in intimate exercises like 'cross the line'.

"It was emotional for me, had some tears to see, I shared with them besides my three children and my wife, I spend more time with them than I do any other part of my family," said Kevin Hogue, Principal at Oologah-Talala High School.

There were student leaders who helped facilitate small group activities, which they say at first was challenging.

"They’re skeptical, they’re not really comfortable about things, so it was kind of a challenge to push some people," said Kenzie Chacon, a junior at Oologah-Talala.

But students really believe this will help prevent bullying, and change the atmosphere around the school.

"I feel like if people understand each other more, they won’t say much about them," said Chacon.

They also hope this helps students feel like they're not alone.

"I know that some of our kids, this is the longest they’ve been without their phone, and having those conversations and really learning how to have those conversations is going to be invaluable," said Hogue.

The second half of the student body will participate on Thursday.

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