Cliques run rampant in many high schools. Unfortunately, most schools have clearly defined social groups that students sort themselves and others into. People tend to stereotype those that belong to other groups without taking the time to get to know them. Many high school students have missed opportunities for friendship because they don’t want to socialize with other groups.
At Middletown High School, a new program called Circle of Friends was created to prevent cliques and stereotyping. In the program, students get paired up with peers who they don’t know or who fall within a different social group. This helps students realize that people can’t be stereotyped. Many unlikely friendships have formed because of Circle of Friends, including the friendship between Claire and Chip.
Claire, a junior at Middletown High School, has a genetic chromosomal disorder. She is developmentally delayed, but she is extremely friendly and has a great attitude. Claire was paired with Chip, a senior soccer player. Over time, the two developed a close friendship, and Chip now says he thinks of Claire as a little sister. He says he has learned more from Claire than from anyone else. They greet each other every time they see each other, and they high-five in the hallways.
When the junior prom was coming up, Claire asked Chip to the prom with the help of a sign that said, “Chip, would you like to go to the junior prom with me?” Claire was overjoyed when he said yes.
The Circle of Friends program at Middletown High School has brought many students closer together. Chip and Claire are just one example of unlikely friendships that form when students look past stereotypes. When schools encourage their students to be friendly and supportive to one another regardless of social groups, they create a much more peaceful, welcoming environment.