October 4, 2019
Oct. 4, 2019—Hundreds of CFISD students spent Sept. 30 at the Berry Center for annual training in Peer Assistance Leadership (PALs) courses.
More than 600 students attended the required training, which included breakout sessions with CFISD’s guidance and counseling, psychological services and community programs departments, networked with other students from all 12 high schools, and heard talks from former Cypress Springs High School PALs adviser Hal Bowman and recording artist Austin Lanier. Students also participated in multiple team building activities.
“The district PALs training event brings together several of our CFISD departments with the goal of preparing our students to serve as effective peer mentors during the school year,” said Timothy Estelle, CFISD secondary PALs coordinator. “Students apply and are selected to be a PAL based on a number of criteria, and this training opportunity allows for all of our PALs to come together to understand the significance of the role they will play at their campus and in their school communities. It is a tremendous event that is the direct result of strong district collaboration, as well as great leadership from the campus PALs sponsors.”
Cy-Fair High School PALs sponsor Chris Kobal has been a sponsor for 18 years and believes the training provides great resources for students.
“I loved Hal Bowman,” Kobal said. “I’ve seen Hal numerous times, but every time he captures my heart a little more. He’s a great example of a good leader, a really good mentor and hopefully, he gave these kids a really good picture of the impact they can make by being a PAL.”
PALs courses are available for juniors and seniors who qualify through an application process. Like the name states, PALs are student mentors to elementary and middle school students, with duties determined by the needs of each campus. Some duties include serving as tutors, playing games, working on social and speaking skills, helping boost self-esteem and promoting a healthy lifestyle.
“I’m into the idea of changing someone’s life and thought that the whole aspect of PALs was pretty cool,” said Joseph Brown, Bridgeland High School junior. “When I was younger, I had a PAL in third grade and they really helped me out throughout the year. It’s cool to be on the other side now.”
PALs began in 1980 as a “peer-helping” program, growing from an informal extracurricular activity within a school district into a structured, curriculum-based program adopted as an accredited elective course.