Advice to kids who want to succeed: ‘Rise Up’


Classroom learning, as we’ve all been told, may be the mainstay of education, but it’s only one pathway in the diverse road to becoming a happy, successful adult.

Thereby was born Rise Up, an 8-week pilot program that’s being conducted to help 24 selected Kyrene Middle School students discover and co-create through various activities focusing on the main pillars of life: mental, physical and socio-emotional.

Kyrene hopes to see the program spread to multiple schools throughout the district.

“It’s done a lot of good at KMS. We’ve seen how kids’ attitudes develop, and the way they’re treating each other has improved,” said Bonny Dolinsek, a Kyrene spokeswoman.

“We’re hoping more schools will participate.”

The selected students met before school two days a week for six weeks, partaking in active and written team building activities.

Adam Eslinger, administrator of Rise Up program and KMS academic behavior specialist, says the program yielded valuable insights, particularly in gaining a broader understanding of societal norms.

“The students in the Rise Up group bonded together across friend groups,” Eslinger said.

“They learned the beginning stages of how to be an effective leader and help improve others around them. They also began to recognize the world around them in deeper ways.

“The students started to recognize individuals who needed a friend and how to make their surroundings a better place.”

The goal of the program, according to Eslinger, is to facilitate the growth and maturity of students, encouraging them to step outside their comfort zones and help each other whenever needed.

“The students who participated will take these lessons into the classroom to look outside themselves to see who needs extra support,” Eslinger said.

“They learn to work hard and go beyond the surface level, leading them to dig deeper into content. As they step out of school, they will become agents of change looking to improve their community and help make the world a better place.”

As a final note of goodbye, the students joined in a celebration on Dec. 1 at the Arizona Grand Resort and Spa. They exchanged stories, dined, participated in team challenges and games, and set the stage for the next phase of their Rise Up journey, which will evolve into a three-part process.

Educators involved in the program weren’t the only ones impressed with its outcome. Vianaye Trujillo, a 7th grade participant, called the Rise Up experience worth the group’s involvement.

“During Rise Up, I had a great time. It was awesome getting to play games before school with some cool people. The coaches were nice and made me feel like they cared about us.

“My favorite game we played was dodgeball, and I really enjoyed the lesson about how leaders build others up. This program helped me grow as a person, and even though I had to get up earlier, I am glad I signed up to take it.”

The program was conducted in partnership with Mark Farrell, president of Progressive Roofing, and Activlab, a sports and fitness enterprise.


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