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Updated: Thursday, 29 Nov 2012, 3:24 PM CST
Published : Monday, 12 Nov 2012, 3:04 PM CST
GREEN BAY - Lunchtime in high school can be a chance to catch up with friends.
That's what Senia Rodriquez does, once a week, with a special group of students at Preble High School.
They're all part of “Teens for Change.”
"I've been part of this group since I was a freshman," said Juan Gomez, Preble High School.
Gomez is now a senior and says meetings like this one have kept him on a right path.
"We talk about different problems in the world and how we can help overcome them," said Gomez.
"I think Teens for Change is making a positive noise in the school," said Rodriguez, Teens for Change advisor.
Rodriguez formed the student organization four years ago. She felt it would give students who were struggling with attendance, behavior, or identity, a place to belong.
"There's some students who do well because they want to be a part of something. But there's others who need to be part of something in order to start doing well," said Rodriguez.
"It's a great place. We help out people and we do stuff for people in need," said Belia Larios, Preble High School senior.
"We help the community. We do volunteer hours," said Lizbeth Alvarez, Preble High School junior.
"It's made a difference because I don't plan to skip school or class. And I look forward to school. I want to graduate," said Gomez.
Rodriguez says "Teens for Change" is making a difference, because she sees it. And so do others.
"There's many teachers who came to me last year and said I don't know what you're doing. But whatever it is, it's okay. It's working," said Rodriguez.
During the meetings, the discussion is about staying in school, being respectful to teachers, and coping with problems in a productive way.
Then, it's off to "The Hive," where the group works together, to take care of the school's donation center.
"I remember students who said, ‘I feel lonely,’ or ‘I don't have friends here.' And then they were excited, saying, 'Now I can see people in the hallway and say hi and it was a different experience for them,’” said Rodriguez.
“Teens for Change” meets just one lunch hour a week. But Rodriguez says it's giving a new-found sense of belonging, confidence, and pride to these students.
"They feel like they are someone. They feel like they can do things," said Rodriguez.
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