Challenge Day lessons learned by STHS students |

Challenge Day lessons learned by STHS students

William Ferchland, Tahoe Daily Tribune

Sometimes an ear and an embrace are all that are needed.

A workshop designed to repair and create relationships at South Tahoe High School was described as a success by the sophomore students who brought Challenge Day to their campus.

The daylong session actually occurred at Horizon Casino Resort but student Anna Lambdin said the effectiveness of last week’s workshop was evident at school the following days.

“Before Challenge Day kids would walk through groups, walk through people, give them a bad look, stereotype them,” Lambdin said. “Since Challenge Day is now over with, the kids are now talking to other kids they saw on Challenge Day.

“There are a lot more hugs too, which is a good thing.”

Challenge Day is a nonprofit program aimed at eliminating alienation and violence at schools so a cohesive and friendly learning environment can be shared. It is achieved through small group discussions and exercises that prove many teenagers share the same hardships of growing up.

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Students from all backgrounds participated. There were a few seniors but the room was mostly filled with underclassmen.

Lambdin was part of a group of four students who went to the Bay Area for training to be small group facilitators. Afterward there was talk about bringing the workshop to the school which has been besieged by fights and hatred.

“We talked to (Principal Karen) Ellis. She wasn’t sure and we brought in the video and she was amazed,” Lambdin said.

After students met with teachers and presented a report on Challenge Day to the school’s cabinet members, counselor Michelle Riley took over the paperwork. Money from a service learning grant helped fund the day.

Madeline Fernald, a school board member, acted as a group facilitator and has participated in previous Challenge Days for South Tahoe Middle School students.

“It was a very powerful day of making amends with people in hopes of creating a happier school environment, an environment where everybody is involved,” Fernald said. “It challenges us to see each other differently, especially those we had altercations with.”

Fernald commended the school’s administration and teachers for supporting the event.

Along with Lambdin and Tina Humlick, sophomore Dan Alexander helped spearhead the effort to bring Challenge Day to the high school.

“I’ve seen the change,” Alexander said. “The kids are actually talking more. The Mexicans are starting to become friends with the Filipinos. Things are starting to change for the better.”

— E-mail William Ferchland at