RAD training added to some sophomore gym classes next year


Amanda Black

Cyrus Johnson participates in the gymnastics unit of Mr. Adam Stuart’s sophomore P.E. class. Next year, some sophomore P.E. classes will separate boys and girls during a small unit on self-defense training for girls.

In the 2018-2019 school year, a self-defense program will become part of the Physical Education curriculum at Libertyville High School.

Rape Aggression Defense, or RAD, is an international program whose mission, as stated on their website, is to train an alliance of instructors who “will provide educational opportunities for women, children, men and seniors to create a safer future for themselves. In doing this, we challenge society to evolve into an existence where violence is not an acceptable part of daily life.”

The RAD curriculum has been chosen to provide LHS students with the best training in both physical and mental self-defense skills, stated principal Dr. Tom Koulentes.

Dr. Koulentes, while working at Highland Park High School, saw RAD incorporated into Highland Park’s P.E. courses several years ago. The reason why RAD was implemented at Highland Park, according to Dr. Koulentes, was because “sexual assault, date rape, and sexual violence [occur] throughout a person’s lifetime, but in particular when students got to college. We wanted to do some things that were proactive to help students learn skills to protect themselves.”

One key element of RAD that made it attractive to LHS staff and administration is how it teaches a way of thinking, not just punches and kicks: “75 percent of RAD is really learning to have a mentality to protect yourself…You learn to assess and make sure you understand where are the danger points and where are your escapes and learn to read a situation to know when it is likely that something could happen that could cause you harm,” Dr. Koulentes said.

Physical education teacher Mr. Adam Stuart and several other teachers visited Highland Park High School in late February to observe RAD in action. He found that RAD really zooms in on the mindset behind keeping yourself safe. Mr. Stuart explained that the class he observed was focused on teaching what to do “if you are confronted by somebody that is getting aggressive towards you, how can you de-escalate that situation and not have to use your self defense skills….Secondly after that is just to make a quick move and get away from the confrontation as quickly as possible.”

According to Dr. Koulentes, another aspect of RAD that sets it apart from other programs is the specialized training it provides. RAD has separate programs for boys and girls simply because their bodies are different and therefore need to be defended in different ways.

Two LHS teachers have been certified to teach the female RAD course, Mrs. Carrie Keske and Mrs. Joyce Amann.

Both semesters of next year’s general sophomore P.E. class with Mrs. Keske will have a small RAD pilot unit, according to P.E department head Ms. Patti Mascia. It is undecided whether one or two of Mrs. Keske’s classes will have RAD at this time.

“Right now we are trying to decide how many days we are going to pilot it. The program is legitimately nine full weeks; we will not be doing nine full weeks. We are going to do a mini, mini pilot, so it could be potentially anywhere from six to nine or 12 days…for each semester,” explained Ms. Mascia. During the time when the girls are being trained, all the boys from that class will join Mr. Christopher Davis’s general sophomore P.E. class and participate in the unit being worked on in that class.

Looking forward, Ms. Mascia elaborated on how RAD will be further incorporated in upcoming years: “Our thought process is, we pilot in a small sophomore group, the following year [RAD’s] fully invested in the sophomore curriculum (boys and girls), and then when they get to be juniors and seniors, we will then do a mini-review, like a three-day review, for the juniors and seniors in their curriculum…That’s the ultimate goal.”  

Freshman Maddy Clawson expressed that she thinks “a lot of girls would appreciate” RAD being taught in P.E. class. Clawson also felt that these skills will become very useful in college because “it’s your first time you are on your own, and I think that just knowing how to defend myself in that situation…would just make me more comfortable and confident when I am living on my own.”

When asked about the impact RAD will have on the study body here at LHS, Dr.  Koulentes responded, “I think [RAD] would have the same impact that it had at Highland Park [in Libertyville], and that is that students would feel empowered, and feel like they were given skills to protect themselves and to keep themselves safe, not just in high school or college, but throughout their life. And that is a great gift as we all go off into the world.”