Waiting on the Warrior

Salibury Post February 16, 2008
A New View on Problems Found in Schools
Salibury Post January 22, 2000
Changing Attitudes
Changing attitudes
Salisbury Post January 01, 2000
By Scott Jenkins

SPENCER — The seventh and eighth graders packed into the gym at North Rowan Middle School clap their hands, stomp their feet and shout "Amen!" like true believers. The man standing at one end of the gym, the big guy with long red curls, has come to tell them they all have something to believe in — themselves.

He is Chad Costantino, a 1993 North Rowan High School graduate and certified therapist. Monday through Thursday, he runs the Abundant Life Counseling Center in Kernersville. On Fridays, he travels the state taking this message to schools. "I’m proud of North Rowan High School, and I’m proud of North Rowan Middle School, and I’m tired of hearing all the bad rap!" he shouts. "Amen?" "Amen!" the students thunder.

The bad rap is the school’s image in the community, an image not improved when teachers and parents asked the Rowan-Salisbury Board of Education for help dealing with unruly students. At a Jan. 10 board meeting, they said about 100 of the school’s nearly 750 students constantly fight, disrespect teachers and disrupt classes. The school board ordered an investigation at the school. A meeting is scheduled for Monday night to receive the results and a recommended plan of action from Schools Superintendent Dr. Joe McCann.

Costantino enjoyed success in high school as the student body president and captain of a football team that went all the way to the state championship game. Now, he imparts the importance of self-esteem and anger management to others, especially students at assemblies like this one. "There is no such thing as a bad kid," Costantino said before the assembly. "What’s bad is the crap they have to go through." Single-parent homes, race relations, abuse and warped societal views of what men and women should be are all topics he touched on during his presentation. But, he told them, how they respond to those things defines who they are, and how the community will see them.

Costantino said anger management is the biggest issue he sees with boys, and low self-esteem the biggest with girls. He had them seated on opposite sides of the gym to address them separately on some issues. "Punching somebody in the mouth is not a good way to deal with anger," he told the students. "Slapping your teacher is not a good way to deal with anger." But neither is holding anger inside, he said. He encouraged students to talk with friends, parents, teachers or their principal when they feel angry.

Holding up a big rock, he told the students that even talking badly about people is just like throwing that rock at them. "And I’ll tell you right now, rocks hurt and they hurt bad," he said. He told the girls to consider themselves beautiful, and not to allow themselves to be treated like "objects." He told the boys to treat them like they would their own sisters. Students stepped out into the middle of the basketball court to play games, one in which they talked about why they’re thankful, and one about trust, where several students lifted another above their heads. Students and a teacher looked into a mirror and listed good things about themselves.

But the most popular parts of the program came when Costantino, students, even principal Dr. Lamont Foster, broke landscaping blocks. Costantino started with three blocks, let a couple of students break a block apiece and had Foster break two, to cheers from the students. Costantino finished by breaking five of the blocks. The exercise, he said, was aimed at showing the students that if they focus, they can break through walls that separate them from success.

Costantino said he learned about the problems at North Middle from relatives in Rowan County. He called Foster, and the two agreed Costantino’s message is one the students need to hear. "He wanted to come and help, and that’s the kind of spirit we need," Foster said. "We need to see more folks coming out with expertise in various areas to show the children that folks outside the school system care." There wasn’t room on the bleachers for the school’s sixth graders, but Costantino said he’d come back and speak with them. And Foster said he’d like Costantino to work with students in smaller groups. Costantino told the students that only they can change what people think of their school, and they have to work together to lift up their school, just like some of them did to lift up a fellow student. "That took teamwork!" he said. "And it’s gonna take teamwork to turn this school around!"

"Amen?" he asked them.

"Amen!" they shouted.

» Read this article at Salisbury Post


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