DB Forum encourages open-mindedness

Diamond Bar High School students took a break from their classes last month to better understand their peers and themselves at the 26th DB Forum.

The biannual leadership conference, hosted by the school’s Wellness Center and Peer Counseling programs, focuses on issues such as stereotypes, time management, service leadership and stress management. It is usually held in October and February.

According to advisor Sandy Davis, attendees discuss issues that are relevant to teenagers, including cyberbullying and gender norms. The goal of DB Forum is to create methods and strategies to make DBHS more inclusive and welcoming to students.

In addition to DBHS students and teachers, a group of students from St. Lucy’s Priory High School, South Hills High School and Los Altos High School also attended the forum.

“Just to help students feel empowered and maybe take more of a leadership role and make more intentional choices, that’d be my goal,” Davis said.

DB Forum attendees headed to the gym at the first bell on Feb. 27 and were placed into 12 groups of 10 people, each under the leadership of wellness consultants and advanced peer counselors. Students met others and got to know peers from varying grade levels and backgrounds.

“[The forum is] fun; it’s a nice experience. You get to meet a lot of new people that you’ll still see around campus,” senior wellness consultant Crystal Calero said. “You get to learn more about yourself and become just more aware of everything that’s going on.”         

After the welcome icebreakers in the beginning, the forum kicked off with Stereotype Bingo. In this activity, attendees went up and asked each other whether the given provocative labels applied to the person they talked to. Labels ranged from being considered “rich” to being considered a “teacher’s pet.” When the activity was over, everyone discussed how they felt asking others if a label applied to them or being asked themselves if a label applied to them.

Another activity at the forum was Over-the-Line, where Davis read more than one hundred statements and attendees stepped over the line if a statement applied to them.

“You get to see like a snapshot in the gym of like over a hundred and forty kids doing this, and it’s like ‘Wow, a lot of these kids feel the same way I do,’” Davis said. “What I’m really trying to highlight through some of these activities is that we have more similarities than we do differences.”

In the activity If You Knew Me Well, students started their sentences with the phrase “If you knew me well, you would…” and then talked about their experiences that their peers were unaware of.

“I really liked this activity [because] it brought out everyone’s vulnerability, and it showed me a different side to some people I met and allowed us to open up,” junior Patrina Yang said via Instagram.

During lunch, each group created a Stereotype Skit, where they poked fun at stereotypes. There was also a communications exercise at the forum, where the attendees talked about how technology is hurting people’s interpersonal relationships.  

The event lasted for all six periods and allowed students to form new friendships, gain knowledge and become more open-minded through participating in various activities.

“DB Forum gave me a platform where I was able to share my own personal [school and life] experiences and receive so much support,” Yang said.

At a follow-up lunch on March 5, students talked about how their actions have changed after going to the event and the discoveries they made from their experience at the forum.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          

“What’s really great is all the discoveries and the things that they talked about is really really impressive,” Davis said. “That’s why I keep doing DB Forum even though it’s a lot of work after school. I do it because I think sometimes we [teachers and adults] don’t get to hear what you guys actually think and feel.”