Peer Leader SpotLight: Jordan Bentz – Century High School Posted on January 12, 2018 by Sources of Strength Media We sat down with Senior Jordan Bentz from Century High School in Bismarck, North Dakota to chat about all things Sources of Strength. Sources: What gets you excited about Sources of Strength? Jordan: We are a small group of students, but when we go out into the school we break barriers. I like that we can get out positive messages and create a ripple effect even if kids don’t realize it. It’s fun to see other school organizations joining in as well. Sources: Can you talk about the other organizations partnering with Sources of Strength? Jordan: Four organizations partnered together, Sources of Strength, SADD, Student Council and Peer to Peer. [Peer to Peer is a class that began at Century that pairs students with and without disabilities together as a way to connect all students] When one organization has an idea you get the backing from the others to make it that much more epic. The four organizations hit many different friend groups so each organization can bring forth hundreds of students. I like the idea that we can get together to support one another and be that much more effective. Watch this video for more information about partnering with other organizations. Sources: How has your school culture changed since Sources of Strength has been there? Jordan: When Peer to Peer started at Century, inclusion with students with disabilities was hyped up, and then we realized we had new students coming to school who didn’t speak English so Sources started asking, ‘How do we get these students involved too?’ Each organization had their own targeted students and together they could bring everyone together. This year on the homecoming court we had two students with disabilities and it was cool they had the backing of the student organizations who had socialized with them and got their names out there. Sources: Do you think you would have seen a change without Sources of Strength? Jordan: No! The change you see is with the people you wouldn’t expect to see it with. You see it in kids who didn’t even want a change, and then we just made it a reality and the positive change happened right under our noses. We had kids who would ignore someone who was a little quirky, and they don’t do that anymore. It’s cool to be nice now! Even from my freshman year to now I have seen a big change where we have a focus on inclusion. It’s no longer ‘Let’s include everyone,’ now it’s ‘We are including everyone.’ Sources: How have you been personally impacted by Sources of Strength? Jordan: If you would have asked me my freshman year who I would be hanging out with my senior year, I wouldn’t have said half the people I would now. Sources presents an opportunity to talk to people you normally wouldn’t talk to. I have met people who have had struggles and hardships and I saw how they overcame them. I’ve learned that I can be an optimistic person too who can change the world. I get out of my comfort zone now to introduce myself to someone I wouldn’t have before because now I understand that they are as uncomfortable as I am so why not do something about it. A positive mindset can change you. Sources: What does a Sources of Strength meeting look like at Century? Jordan: We try to meet every other week or at the least once a month, and every month we try to focus on a different part of the wheel. We start out with fun games and then sit down to plan the month. For example, if we are focusing on positive friends we start asking, ‘What actives do we want to do to reflect that?’ It’s a lot of brainstorming and communicating. Everyone gets their turn to share what they want to see happen. We also spend time reflecting on how our last event went. Sources: What are some unique ideas Century’s Sources of Strength have come up with? Jordan: We had the four partnered organizations get together for a fun night of pizza and tie dyeing shirts with positive messages. Then we all would wear them to school on specific days. For the new year we all made shirts that said “Hello 2018!” We also have basketball and Eclipse Ball tournaments throughout the year that are so much fun! Sources: Can you explain your Eclipse Ball Tournament? It sounds amazing! [Eclipse Ball – think volleyball, badminton and tennis all wrapped together] Jordan: Any students at Century can sign up in teams of four. A lot of clubs and sports will make teams. On the day of, we make a bracket and the teams that win move down the bracket until two teams are left. Everyone stands and cheers on the championship game. A lot of people just come to watch – there’s definitely is a fan base. It’s a day of friendly competition! You wouldn’t think kids would come back to school for something at night, but there is a big group of kids who like a little competition and they are always asking when our next tournament is. Sources: How have your Adult Advisors helped you? Jordan: They are all amazing people. Our advisor Mrs. Bentz (no relation) would see me in the hallway and she always had something positive to say. It was amazing how after just one year in the hallway she changed my outlook on life. She encompassed the idea of Sources of Strength into her everyday life. She makes students relate to her – she’s kind of a goofy mom figure but that’s who she is and that’s how she impacts people. We have had so many teachers go to Sources of Strength trainings now and even if they don’t go to the meetings, they have all changed too and have become more considerate. For example, if they see a student sleeping in class they may be sleeping because of something at home they can’t control. The teachers are starting to consider who the student is beyond the classroom. Sources: Any words of advice for other schools using Sources of Strength? Jordan: Just go for it! Don’t hold back! Ideas may sound too weird or too big, but those are the things that get people’s attention. And even the small things you do that don’t seem to be going well, it still can help one person and that’s what Sources of Strength is all about. Sources: Ok Jordan, last question, what’s your favorite healthy activity from this week? Jordan: On the last day of the semester my lunch group saw a bunch of basketballs in the gym so we asked the gym teacher if we could use them. Our little group had a mini basketball tournament – it was so fun! For more information on the partnership between school organizations at Century High School, go to the “Creating Partnerships” video on the adult advisor video page.