The Peer Assistance Leadership program at Rosary High School offers benefits to student body and PAL members

By Alison Michalak     6/1/2015

Peer Assistance Leadership (PAL) is a program that enables kids across America to make a difference for their peers and their communities. Members are taught how to effectively listen to others, as well as how to respond to life-threatening situations such as domestic violence, depression, and suicide. The high school PAL program also focuses on promoting safe learning environments by propagating anti-drug and alcohol use among high schoolers. Rosary High School’s PAL program is only two years old, and has already made a huge impact on the student body and the program’s members.

PAL, at Rosary, consists of 25 young women dedicated to helping others and improving the school environment. PAL class moderator Mrs. Nicola Huerta explained PAL’s goal is, “to create a safe and loving environment for the girls and to promote sisterhood around the school.” Walking on to Rosary’s campus it is evident that the girls have really pushed themselves to reach this goal.

Flyers hang from every window preaching about the dangers of drinking and driving. In October a mock cemetery was set up in the quad with the tombstones of celebrities who had died from drug use. And a PSA about underage drinking was sent to all student before prom, courtesy of PAL.

The girls also work hard at building up a feeling of sisterhood at Rosary. PAL members will often be out at breaks and lunch selling Kind Cards to students. Kind Cards are made by PAL and will often have a message on them meant to brighten someone’s day. The hope PAL girls have for these cards is that Rosary students will be compelled to commit a random act of kindness and show their classmates how much they care for them.

But PAL is not all self-giving; the members have also benefitted from the program. Junior, Vanessa Grasso said, “PAL made me confident in myself as a leader.”

Most of the girls agree that having PAL is great way to start off a Friday morning and that they’ve become friends with girls this year who they had never talked to before. For others, it benefitted them educationally. Michelle Bowers says that PAL has “helped me become more aware of the prevalence of mental illness in people my own age and driven me to help them help themselves.”

Through the hard work and dedication of its members, PAL has grown tremendously in the past year. This year more than 70 girls applied to be a part of PAL, a huge improvement from past years. And as PAL continues to gain momentum, it is hard to imagine anything being able to stop the good this program does for Rosary.

Alison Michalak is a journalism intern for OC Catholic newspaper.