MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Memphis Shelby County Schools continues its mission to help students peacefully resolve conflict; the district says it’s all about helping students reimagine how they express their emotions.

Melodie Horton, a junior at Hollis F. Price Middle College High School, says at one point she had a hard time resolving conflict with others.

“I felt like no one understood me. That’s why I always raised my voice and yelled because I felt like if I don’t yell, y’all [are not going to] understand me,” she said.

She says over time, she learned to better communicate her emotions, and now she wants to help her classmates do the same thing. 

That’s why she and dozens of students from 15 Memphis Shelby County Schools were brought together at Bridges in Downtown Memphis to learn those skills. 

Kendrick Alexander is the project lead for Project R.E.S.T.O.R.E which is an acronym for Re-imagining Emotions Through Open Restorative Engagement.

Alexander says students and faculty will meet once a week to learn various resolution and relationship-building techniques in order to spread the knowledge to their peers.

“We’re trying to give them an outlet or build relationships with people within their schools so that they can have someone to go and talk to when they’re experiencing problems,” he said.

The district says the chosen schools have some of the highest numbers of students engaging in fights or other disruptive behavior.

MSCS started the program last school year with 10 schools, and Alexander says they saw a drop in incidents at eight of the 10 schools.

“They had a drop in incidents. As far as attendance, the kids started coming to school and they started behaving better after they had that outlet to go and actually talk to somebody,” said Alexander.

Trezevant High School Senior Frank Sea says many of the conflicts he sees can be resolved with proper communication skills. “Everybody thinks they’re above somebody else and they just can’t come together to resolve it.”

“You can talk to someone without yelling. Like, they understand you. You can be understood with a simple conversation,” said Horton.

District officials say the program will run through April.