High school’s LOTUS group offers support, education
At the start of this school year, New Richmond High School counselor Shannon Bartlett was approached by a small group of students who expressed a desire to put together a club or group that helped create positive peer connections and to create a safe, accepting and open environment for anyone who wanted to join. That is how the LOTUS group was formed at the high school.
“LOTUS, which stands for League of Tolerance, Understanding and Support, is something I was approached about at the beginning of the year by a couple of groups of students who thought the school needed a group or club like that,” Bartlett said. “We had our first few meetings a while ago, which consisted mostly of talking about what the group could be, how it could support students and how it could make an impact in the school.”
In order to figure out those things, Bartlett met with a team of five students on a regular basis to create a mission statement for the group as well as a set of initial goals. The small team also discussed what role LOTUS would fulfill for the high school and its students.
“After a few meetings, we came up with this mission statement: LOTUS is an open, accepting group of students uniting to create a safe, free, and supportive environment for students,” Bartlett said. “The purpose would be to increase school unity, feelings of safety and personal well-being, and to raise awareness of current issues impacting today's students.”
According to Bartlett, the group will be a combination of support and education as well as provide awareness to the students at the high school.
“Some meetings may be more of an open table discussion to allow students to discuss topics of their choice, whereas other meetings may be focused on planning a school initiative, such as Cultural Competency Month or You're Not Alone Week,” Barlett said. “They also would like to begin some initiatives such as Random Act of Kindness days, or also partner with other school groups and clubs where they can have an additional impact.”
LOTUS has met a few times already this year, but Bartlett and the students are both excited to see what the group can become.
“We're looking forward to the first few meetings to really see what it can become, as it really will be up to the students involved to determine how they will find this group most helpful and beneficial,” Bartlett said. “We have already heard students expressing their interest in joining and are so hopeful to see what it can become. I'm very proud of the students who have pushed and advocated to have this group. I hope to see it evolve and grow into the future.”
If a student is interested in joining LOTUS, they can come to any of the group’s meetings, which are Mondays from 3-4 p.m. If they have any questions, students can meet with Barlett to have them answered.