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Craig Bryan

Cradling class mascot Century in his left hand, South Eugene High's Peer Group Coordinator Craig Bryan slaps high-fives with students leaving a training session. After an initial week of training, these peer-group leaders will meet once a week for the rest of the term in small groups, each one composed of five or six freshmen and two or three upper-class leaders. "It's a chance to talk to older people and a break from school -- very relaxing," notes a freshman in his evaluation. Leaders meet weekly in their own staffing groups and also once with coordinator Bryan. "Staffing groups are intense -- kids say that's the most important group," he reports. A Californian with degrees in psychology, Bryan worked with juvenile offenders and drug-dependent teens before he moved to Eugene in 1982. After his daughter Summer entered South ten years ago, Bryan worked with teacher Marty Johnson to expand a Peer Helper program. While Peer Group is voluntary, 98% of freshmen choose to take part, and a quarter of upper-class students trains as leaders. "They get health or community service credits," Bryan says. "The kids run the program."


happening people

photograph and story by Paul Neevel

Eugene Weekly / 26 February 2004

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