After watching video of UC Berkeley police clad in riot gear hitting young adults peacefully protesting on campus, students at Mt. Diablo High shared their reactions.
One said he would fight back if he was being hit. But Jose Hernandez, 17, of Concord, had a different idea.
"I would continue to get hit to make them look bad," he said of the police. "Obviously, this is on camera."
Dan Reynolds, who teaches human rights and English at the Concord school, said cellphones and social media have transformed the way the public finds out about social justice protests. Reynolds and other educators who teach Bay Area students about nonviolence and related issues will share their lesson plans with teachers and after-school program providers during a "Creating a Peaceful School" conference Saturday at Acalanes High. Sponsored by the Walnut Creek-based Mt. Diablo Peace and Justice Center, it is the first conference of its kind in the area.
"School is a wonderful place to teach students the skills to change the world for the better," said Reynolds, who will lead a workshop on journaling for peace and human rights. In his human rights class, students write their thoughts on social justice issues in their journals, then discuss their ideas.
"This class should be in every district," Hernandez said, "because it teaches things people don't know that are happening these days in the world and around the country."
Other topics covered at Saturday's conference will include fear and anger, nonviolent communication, peace and conflict studies, conflict mediation, peaceful watercolor imagery, yoga for teacher relaxation and "HeartMath" for resilient educators and youth. Teachers from the Mt. Diablo school district, Bishop O'Dowd High in Oakland, Freedom High in Brentwood and Walnut Creek Intermediate will lead the sessions, along with a retired professor and author, a facilitator and trainer, and peace center staff members.
"We're doing this because there are so many reports of bullying and so many conflicts in our schools," said Mary Alice O'Connor, executive director of the Peace and Justice Center. "We just thought that, often, the education system is not picking up the slack. So there's a gap between what's happening and what's needed and we're trying to bridge that in some small way. I would call it a beginning."
So far, she said 115 educators have signed up, including 18 Antioch school district teachers. Rep. George Miller, D-Martinez, is also stopping by, she said.
Students at Mt. Diablo High hope teachers at other schools will inspire teens as much as Reynolds inspires them.
"He's probably my favorite teacher," said Alisha Albertson, 18, of Concord. "He's so knowledgeable and he knows how to make you feel like you can do something and helps you through it. If I have self-doubt, he helps push you to the full extent and he doesn't give up on anyone."
IF YOU GO
The "Creating a Peaceful School" conference will take place from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Saturday at Acalanes High School, 1200 Pleasant Hill Road in Lafayette. The registration deadline is Thursday; cost is $35, which includes lunch. Five hours of continuing education credit is available from Saint Mary's College for an additional $25.
More information is available by calling 925-933-7850 or by going to www.mtdpc.org.
For details, read the On Assignment blog at www.ibabuzz.com/onassignment.