Riverdale's Peer Assistance and Leadership program (PAL) is an opportunity for selected older students to work closely with groups of seventh or ninth grade students. Faculty "Elders" train 20 juniors and 20 seniors. Beginning in October, pairs of peer leaders meet weekly with small groups of either seventh or ninth graders for discussion and activities relating to adolescence and life at Riverdale. Leaders create activities around issues of school life, family situation, grade-wide situations, gender, fitting-in, alcohol and substance use, parties, being a role model, saying “no”, authority, politics, race, class, and ethnicity.
The Peer Leaders experience leadership circumstances and learn the art of keeping a conversation going, reading the group dynamic, creating activities around issues, and having a conversation about the affective side of life at Riverdale. The leaders have a tremendous responsibility to create and evaluate their work, to create effective activities, and to work closely with their partners.