Martinsburg students bring anti-violence ideas back from D.C.

November 08, 1999

By JULIE E. GREENE / Staff Writer

Photo by JOE CROCETTA / Staff Photographer

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Two Martinsburg High School seniors want to do what they can to prevent incidents such as last April's shootings at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo., from happening at their school or any other.

Katie Deuell and Lauren Durst were among some 350 teenagers who attended a congressional teen conference titled "Voices Against Violence" Oct. 19-20 in Washington.

Their trip and that of Jefferson High School juniors Bryan Hyre and Katherine Campbell were sponsored by U.S. Rep. Bob Wise, D-W.Va.

"I think more people need to get involved. It can't just be two students from one school," said Durst, 17, of Martinsburg.


Durst and Deuell will present information from their trip to the Berkeley County Board of Education, although a date hasn't been set , said Principal Rick Deuell, who is Katie's father.

Durst and Deuell said their school already has methods to deal with or prevent school violence, but more needs to be done.

The school has a full-time security guard and a peer mediation program in which students try to settle minor disagreements.

Deuell, 18, of Martinsburg, said she'd like to see more after-school programs such as intramural sports available to give students another outlet and a way to build self-confidence.

Another possibility is a peer program in which seniors or juniors would be paired up with younger students with low self-esteem, Deuell said.

At the conference, students met in groups with top psychologists and other experts to discuss needs and come up with causes of school violence and possible solutions.

The three causes cited were lack of identity and self-worth due to isolation, lack of understanding and communication and easy access to weapons, they said.

Needs are mentoring, character training and diversity awareness and appreciation, meaning students need to understand "that people are different," Durst said.

Solutions proposed at the conference varied, including conflict-resolution programs, community involvement and gun restriction, they said.

Durst and Deuell came away with models of programs at other schools, but said a program needs to be created to fit Martinsburg High School.

While the school hasn't experienced severe violence, it isn't immune from it, they said.

The Herald-Mail Articles