New Love Notes program helps create healthy relationships with male students


Katie Quaranta

Hands are places in a strong, tight formation to showcase the unity that the Love Notes program will provide.

An increasing need for students to be in tune with themselves and create healthy long-lasting relationships with those around them led administrators and staff to embrace a new program called Love Notes. 

“The Love Notes program is a curriculum that teaches young men about relationships. Not just romantic relationships, but with friendships, family members and overall how to develop positive [connections],” Ms. Ali Goodrich said. 

The program targets young men who have shown signs of disengagement in the classroom, aggressiveness, and loneliness, and hopes to teach them how to be more connected and with themselves and the people around them. 

“The idea for this group came from [Principal] Mr. [Justin Cutts]. He’s really passionate about helping students feel more welcome at this school and he was noticing that there’s been some groups of students, unfortunately it happens to be with our boys, who are not feeling as connected and engaged,” school guidance counselor, Mrs. Sada Dewey said. 

Within the curriculum, it delves into ideas such as toxic masculinity and that it’s normal for men to express their feelings and emotions.

“[We wanted to] create a more welcoming inviting space for our boys and also to help [them understand] the toxic masculinity that is rampant in our world. Boys [so often] feel like they can’t connect with [their] emotions, that  [they] can’t feel, they can’t cry, they can’t be sad and that they have to be mad, angry, tough, violent. That does not help anyone in the future,” Dewey said. 

Currently, about fifteen to twenty boys are attending the weekly program on campus. The group meets every Monday, with the first meeting held Feb. 3. 

“Individually talking to the boys [was] not working. The regular check-ins that we had were not enough, so the group now meet weekly for up to an hour with the two facilitators, [Clay Rohas and Isaiah Cockren], to help the boys make connections and teach them how to gain the skills to be successful people, successful men and successful citizens. Also, culturally being able to connect with people that look like them as well is important,” Dewey said. 

Clay Rohas is the main facilitator, as he is the man who created the program. Isiah Cockren works alongside Clay, him being the facilitator on campus. Dewy, a counselor on campus, works behind the scenes of the Love Notes program.  

As of now, the Love Notes program is centered around helping the boys on campus, but a women’s group is also a potential future development. 

“Having small groups for girls has always been close to my heart. That is the goal eventually if the Love Notes program picks up here. I’ve had a few conversations with ladies in my office myself. It’s just getting back to the roots and having a real heartfelt conversation that is so important,” Dewey said. 

Because the group on campus is new, with no program like this one being implemented before, there is no telling whether or not it is going to work, but there are high hopes for its success. 

Goodrich said, “I think that [the program] will bring a positive change in and out of the classroom. I think that we need a lot of community building here at Whitney and we need to develop groups of people of young men and potentially in the future young women to support each other.”