By Everett Brazil, III
The Newkirk Herald Journal
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — A group of Newkirk High School Stepp-Up members hit the road early Saturday morning, July 24, headed to Knoxville, Tenn., for the annual National Student Safety Conference. The club competed against schools from across the country, won several awards along the way and learned ways to step up for their fellow students.
Stepp-Up, or Students Encouraging Peers Positively Up, is a student organization that seeks to instill a love of their peers and help them live better lives.
“We’re all about trying to influence our peers positively in the right direction by being positive mentors, in any type of issues people at their age face,” said advisor Lori Mayden.
The organization last held their conference in 2019, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The students were excited to get back out and meet fellow members.
“It was great seeing a lot of old friends. The kids were able to meet with driving educators,” Mayden said. “It felt good to be back in person, instead of virtually.”
The students had many learning opportunities, lessons they can bring back home to Newkirk.
“NSSP was a truly great experience. Not only did we get to use our methods of teaching students, but we also got to learn the ways others educated students,” said Raychill Beshirs.
Along the way, the students are bringing home several awards, including first place in t-shirt design, and third place outstanding student presentation.
As the students returned home, they reflected on their experiences, and feel more confident as students moving forward.
“Our experience in Knoxville helped us see how we could help spread road safety through our community,” Maya Gentry said. “We mad many new friends, shared amazing stories and great techniques we can share with our peers at school.”
In the end, however, it’s simply a great organization to learn many concepts.
“Stepp-Up is cool. Everyone had a good time,” Thomas Ramirez said.