The students who gather tonight at Hawthorn Middle School South are in for some important lessons about making good decisions and handling peer pressure.
More than 430 seventh- and eighth-graders from Middle School South, Middle School North and Oak Grove School—along with their parents—will participate in the annual Snowflake program. The evening—which will start right after school and run until 10 p.m.—will feature national speakers and small-group discussions.
"It's a long time, but they get a lot of information," said Cathy Logsdon, a social worker at Middle School South. She and fellow social worker John Langelund are coordinating the effort, which will be made possible with the help of 80 adult volunteers, along with 45 volunteers from Libertyville and Vernon Hills High Schools.
"The goal is to let kids know that they're not alone," said Logsdon.
The evening will include both national and local speakers. One will talk about decision-making in a humorous way, Logsdon said.
"He has those 400 kids just listening and watching him," she said. Another speaker will talk about being an individual, making positive choices and respecting others. Vernon Hills Police Officer Andy Jones will discuss what's new in technology and share important information for parents.
"Parents love him," said Logsdon.
Students will break up into small groups, led by two adult facilitators, to discuss what they heard from the speakers or play a game.
Logsdon noted that during Snowflake, everyone is on the same level. Participants all wear matching Snowflake t-shirts, and the students can call adults by their first names.
"There's no cheerleaders here. There's no jocks. There's no popular or unpopular," she said. "It's one day of everybody accepting everyone for who they are."
She wants students to leave the Snowflake event knowing that "they're not alone in some of their thoughts.
"It normalizes a lot of things. They meet other, kids, too, which is a nice thing. It's a fun, positive night with a positive message," said Logsdon.
Students pay a $20 entrance/registration fee to participate. The fee includes food and a t-shirt, and helps offset the cost of the speakers.
Logsdon said the Community Alliance Project and PTOs also support the program financially.