Dating violence brought to light in new production


Betty Huang

The Amanda Forum storyline will be updated in the showcase located between family and consumer science teachers Shana Janes’ and Sandra Malagon’s rooms.

Betty Huang, Assistant Editor-in-Chief

Have you noticed scenes in the showcase between family and consumer science teachers Shana Janes’ and Sandra Malagon’s rooms? A group of eleven students have come together to present the Amanda Forum. But what is it?

“The Amanda Forum was set up by the parents of Amanda Bach (a student from Portage) who was a victim of dating violence. She was murdered by her ex-boyfriend. This program was designed to create awareness for the problem of dating violence,” said family and consumer science teacher Brenda Richardson.

“It’s a group that promotes the idea of safe dating and how to recognize signs of abuse in relationships, and how to promote self respect, (along with) self happiness in relationships,” said junior Joey Kerber.

Sophomores Hannah Wleklinski, Kenny Finke, Paige Lecea, Morgan Juarez, Jonah Tillman, juniors Cloe Schipper, Joey Kerber, Eleni Illoui, Erin Perry, Palar Rodriguez, and senior Angie Otto (whom joined the group at a later time) comprise the group of students who plan to create and produce a storyline, which will be displayed in the showcase, that portrays dating violence. The group, however, acts out the scenes according to what scene is most voted on through their Twitter page: @amandaforumhhs.

“Every once in a while we’re going to do a poll on Twitter and then you get to vote on how the story is going to go. Basically, (the story) is going to end up bad (so we can) promote (awareness for) dating violence and get everyone to realize the severity of it, that it could happen to anybody that you know,” said junior Cloe Schipper.

Kerber said, “We’re giving the students the choice to pick what the future is going to be for the characters. We’re giving basic decisions, but we’re showing them that such small decisions can have a big effect.”

When the group changes scenes to progress through the storyline, the characters will be in the showcase during the first three passing periods of the day. It will be a surprise on what day each week the scene changes.

Ten students were chosen by Richardson, Malagon and health teacher Reese Ryzewski to attend a training session for the Amanda Forum in February, during which students learned what the Amanda Forum was, what happened to Amanda Bach, and what to watch out for in relationships and when going through a breakup.

“We were looking for people who represented different groups around the school and were not afraid to speak to other students. Also, we chose juniors and sophomores because we thought that we would start next school year,” said Richardson.

The group decided that they wanted to start activities before prom instead of waiting.

“We thought it was smart to (start) before prom because prom is a big thing that could be dangerous (since) a lot of couples go to prom,” said Finke.

The current storyline in the showcase will end when school is out and a new one will start at the beginning of next year.

“We don’t know yet (if there will be a new story quarterly), but it will probably be a semester thing,” said Kerber.

Not only has the group been using the showcase to catch people’s attention, but a questionnaire has been set up in the commons during lunch. The latest question was “How do you respect yourself and others?” This questionnaire gathers student responses, and the group will post them anonymously in the commons. A new question will be given next week, and more will come after prom.

The group has already started turning heads and is garnering positive feedback.