Students find safe haven in Peace Room

As a 17-year-old, Briahna Stabler knows about stress. The Chattahoochee High senior is also aware that teens don’t have sole claim to anxiety.

“I know when I get stressed out, I need a safe place to handle the emotions I’m feeling, and elementary schoolers do, too,” she said. “I know everyone’s had a moment when they’re going through a rough time.”

Briahna also knew about youngsters’ stress levels from her mom, Roytunda Stabler, who is principal at her old elementary school, Abbotts Hill in Johns Creek. And she learned that, sometimes, those rough patches can escalate into conflicts with others.

When Briahna also heard that there was some extra, unused office space sitting near the Abbotts Hill counselor’s office, she had a bright idea.

“I decided a peace room would be a great place,” she said. “We could paint it and make it tranquil and a safe environment for students.”

As part of a project in a directed studies class, Briahna took on the challenge of creating that environment. She recruited help from fellow high schoolers and worked after school and on weekends to paint the ceiling tiles and walls in calming shades of blue and gray.

She also reached out to local businesses and families to find furnishings. The finished space, dubbed the “Peace Room,” debuted at the beginning of the school year and has sparked conversations around solving conflicts using peaceful and restorative practices.

“As a staff, we were looking for options to respond to students’ emotional needs,” said Roytunda. “That exists in middle and high schools, but we were looking for more age-appropriate approaches. The idea of using restorative practices came up, and our team expressed an interest in exploring them.”

Restorative practices take a collaborative approach to righting wrongs. The Abbots Hill staff was trained on the theory and invited to make use of the safe space in the Peace Room to have those conversations with students.

“The Peace Room is where kids can go if there’s a conflict between them,” said Roytunda. “They can resolve it peacefully and come up with strategies to make better choices. If they feel they’ve been wronged or they’re not certain about something, they can come here to seek assistance from a counselor or a teacher.

In a way, it’s an extension of what our teachers do in circles: All the kids sit in a circle, and each child has a voice to ask questions or solve problems that can be academic or emotional.”

Roytunda added that the Peace Room sometimes functions just as a quiet escape “if a child is having a rough time and needs a place to calm down before going into the classroom.” In the few short weeks since it debuted, the space has gotten students’ attention.

“They think it’s cool, and they’re asking to go there,” said Roytunda.

And that makes Briahna very happy. “I don’t want to see any child struggling,” she said. “I feel great that kids have a place to address their feelings.”

Information about Abbotts Hill is online at school.fultonschools.org/es/abbottshill.


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Each week we look at programs, projects and successful endeavors at area schools, from pre-K to grad school. To suggest a story, contact H.M. Cauley at hm_cauley@yahoo.com or 770-744-3042.