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Marriage Enters Halifax County Classrooms

Educators hope that a new class will help combat North Carolina's high rate of divorce, as well as domestic violence. The class is being taught at three Halifax County high schools.

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WELDON, N.C. — Students at three Halifax high schools are learning about healthy relationships in a course educators hope will reduce the rates of divorces, single-parent households and domestic violence.

A $550,000 federal grant funded the course to teach students how to develop strong relationships and healthy marriages based on mutuality and respect. The course is being taught at Weldon, Northwest Halifax and Southeast Halifax high schools.

In 2006, nearly 65,000 people were married in North Carolina, and more than half that number were divorced, according to the N.C. Center for Health Statistics.

"Having been married before, you're in for a lot of surprises, and you need to know how to deal with that emotionally," Harriett Walker, with Weldon City schools, said.

A large part of the course focuses on teaching students how to handle emotions. Students are asked they would deal with unwanted attention, rejection and self-esteem.

The course is part of the Healthy Marriage Demonstration Program sponsored by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The N.C. portion of the grant is being administered by the Raleigh-based CJH Educational Grant Services, Inc.

Warren County schools has also applied to CJH for a grant to fund a similar course.

Physical education teacher Charlie Vernon said he knows a lot of educators statewide have their eyes on the course, which he heads at Weldon High.

"This is something new. I have people calling me, asking me about the program, so I have to stay up-to-date with what's going on," Vernon said.

He said students are taking an active interest in the subject matter. Ninth-grader Jakia Davis seems to have learned the message of communication that the course is designed to impart.

"When I first started the class, it was kind of hard to express myself, but now, it's easy," she said.


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