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Aloha High School campaign sobers up some norms

Posters of a shield featuring an arrow with the words 'Elevate, Knowledge, Awareness, Pride,' are expected to pique Aloha High School students' imaginations.

That's because a group of students in the school's advanced marketing classes are about to launch a campaign to quell misconceptions about what students do on weekends.

In January, the school will kick off a 'social norms' campaign.

Social norms is a theory that people's behaviors are influenced by their perceptions of what is normal.

Students, including Luda Yasinskaya, Bethy Alemayhu, Ian Anaya and Michael Nguyen are trying to define 'normal' by raising awareness and promoting norms.

They'll do that by emphasizing two statistics: that 84 percent of Aloha High School students are marijuana-free, and that 91 percent of Aloha High School students stay sober on the weekends.

Those come from two sources, an in-school survey of freshmen, sophomores and juniors conducted in June 2005, and a Beaverton Together survey completed in the fall of 2005, according to Kathryn Wolff, an Aloha High counselor and adviser for the social norms campaign.

'So we had two different sources to utilize for our data,' Wolff pointed out.

She said there are misconceptions regarding the amount of drug and alcohol abuse going on in schools and that the campaign will tell the community what is actually going on.

'Makes me happy'

Those working on the social norms campaign say they were somewhat surprised by the results of the surveys.

Yasinskaya thinks there would be more students reporting marijuana use, but is glad that's not the truth.

'Personally, this makes me happy,' she said.

The goal of the posters is to provide positive messages, true statistics and helpful tools.

The initial posters put up in the new year will prominently feature a shield with the word 'elevate.'

'The shield represents such things as strength, defense, heritage and pride,' said Nguyen. 'And the arrow is 'elevate' - to raise awareness and pride.'

Graphic designer Anaya said he played with a number of ideas before coming up with the logo.

'We really wanted to encompass the pride in Aloha High school so that's where the shield comes from, the Aloha Warrior,' said Anaya.

Anaya said using survey information would help change any perception some may have that the school is 'full of druggies' when that's not the case.

Yasinskaya said the goal of the elevate posters is to catch students' attention, noting that after they go up advisory presentations by marketing students will be made so students understand what the marketing students are trying to do.

In March, students will host simulated game shows during the lunch hour.

'With our lunch activities, the whole goal is to interact with the student body,' said Alemayhu. Those who answer social norms campaign questions correctly will win such prizes as campaign wristbands, stickers and pencils.

Alemayhu said students often hear more negative things about their school than positive so their campaign will focus on the good things students are doing.

'Everything is on a positive note,' she said. 'We don't promote the bad behavior.'

On solid ground

In coordinating the project, students worked closely with Betty Merritt, a project coordinator for the Washington County Department of Health and Human Services Commission.

In turn, they made a PowerPoint presentation to Beaverton Together, which awarded Aloha High with a $2,000 grant to complete their campaign.

'The Beaverton Together people were pretty happy with how far we'd gone (in coming up with the campaign),' said Ariel Malia, another student adviser.

In addition to the posters, Malia said more information about the campaign could come by creating 'Elevate' screensavers for school computers as well as placing campaign information on the school's electronic reader board and inside the parent newsletter.

Other staff members who have helped extensively have included marketing teacher Tim Moe and art teacher Tamara Ottum.

'Tamara, Tim and I talked about this a year ago . . . and they've really stayed on board with students here to carry it off,' said Wolff.

Alemayhu said she believes the campaign is on solid ground because it's promoted by students and backed by two surveys' figures.

'It's good for us because we're behind it and we know where the stats come from,' she said.