Cross the Line Bonding Activity Raises Questions About Inclusivity at Haverford


Jessica Dillon, Staff

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Just last week, Haverford High School teachers were presented with a mission: homeroom bonding. They were given a packet with three days worth of phrases inside. The directions were simple- read the phrases aloud, if it applies to you, you step forward. The problem many found was just how personal these questions became as they went on. Day one’s questions consisted of light, ice-breaker-type questions such as “cross the line if you enjoy eating pizza.”  As they reached day three, they began to find much deeper, more personal questions: “cross the line if you have ever felt physically unsafe.” Questions like these are what sparked controversy among the student body. Encouraging kids to be open and support each other is a great thing, but does this activity take it too far?

Mrs. Sarah Davit, a Haverford math teacher and a member of a district-wide inclusivity committee was a major part of bringing this activity to our homeroom. “This is actually a school initiative that Mr. Donaghy brought to us and formed a committee to do what we call social emotional learning activities” Davit said. “I am taking a class that asked for somebody to design an activity to do with students so I brought this particular activity to the committee.”

Activities like these are designed to push students out of their comfort zone in order to promote empathy and showing love to their peers. The instructions advise this to be a silent activity, only allowing students to raise a “showing love” symbol when someone crosses the line on a difficult question.

The main goal of this activity is to encourage students to open their minds to what others may be experiencing in their lives.

“I think there’s a lot of assumptions we make about people as we go about our day that people are just like us or people are very different from us and this particular activity I felt like touches on these in a very simple, visual way,” said Davit.

It is teaching students to be more aware of what may or may not be occurring in their classmates lives. It is important to understand the struggles some may be experiencing, but some people may find this level of hard-hitting questions may be a bit much.

“Some of the discomfort is a part of the growing process,” Davit explained. To try to control this discomfort, students are given the option to not cross the line and keep their responses to themselves. While this may lessen the stress of the activity, it may also weaken it, since students will very often opt to not respond.

Overall, this activity definitely put into our minds that we need to slow down and pay attention to the lives of those around us. Mrs. Davit is currently in the works on a few more activities that will hopefully allow Haverford students to grow and learn more about each other. The long term goal is to create a school where everyone can feel safe and welcome, which is a group effort. Expectantly, Haverford will only become more inclusive as time progresses.

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