City Leads Conflict Resolution Effort for Washington Middle School Students

City and DOJ SPIRIT curriculum empowers 100 students to build community solutions.

Nov. 9, 2022

In an effort to mitigate violence and generate opportunities for youth leaders, the City of Albuquerque facilitated its second youth-based training for Washington Middle School (WMS) students. One hundred students participated in the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) SPIRIT (School-Student Problem Identification and Resolution of Issues Together Program) curriculum, which aimed to build skills in conflict resolution, problem solving, and critical thinking.

“Students and their families need access to resources that help build trust and support within the community,” said Sasha Pellerin, Senior Policy Advisor for Education. “We are taking collaborative steps with the district and with DOJ to provide an environment where folks can begin to heal. We hope to continue to build on this program and involve more schools and more partners in the future.”

The SPIRIT planning committee has worked to carefully tailor the SPIRIT model and address school-wide needs with the support of teachers and administrators at Washington Middle School. Through the planning council, the City has been able to support the school in a number of ways, including by placing a temporary crosswalk in front school to respond to the influx of visitors on campus and maintain safety in the area.

The program has taken shape over the last seven months, with the first cohort of 30 WMS students participating in late April. The curriculum leads to the students working with the school administration to develop and implement an action plan to address issues that contribute to the conflict discussed during the session.

“These students are leaders in their school and this community, and we thank them for having these conversations that will create solutions and healing,” said Mayor Tim Keller. “It will take all of us to make real change and this work is a crucial part of that.”

Various community organizations and partners, including APS, the DOJ Community Relations Service, School Based Health Centers, and ABC Community Schools, have committed resources to the Washington Middle School community. Plans are underway to construct a Resource Hub for students and families, with $10,000 already committed from the City.