Creek Expands Sexual Assault Curriculum to Include More Grade Levels


According to RAINN, a majority of child victims are 12 to 17 years old and 8% of sexual assault cases occur on school property. By expanding the curriculum to teach more students about sexual assault, Koestner and admin are hoping to open up conversations about assault to help students feel heard. By addressing this issue, there will be a space for students to openly talk about it and receive resources from Koestner and school counselors starting this 2022-2023 school year.

Jude Gorden and Gabby Schrock

Creek joined forces with Katie Koestner, an activist against sexual assault, 23 years ago to educate their seniors on the topic. This year, the administration altered the program to include presentations for sophomores and juniors.

“We’re seeing more issues around relationships, and how to have normal healthy [relationships] that are age appropriate,” Principal Ryan Silva said. “It felt like a call to action.”

According to RAINN (Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network), in March 2020, for the first time ever, minors made up half the calls to the National Sexual Assault Hotline (operated by RAINN). Notably, this increase in calls lines up with the start of the COVID-19 lockdown.

To combat this spike in assault regarding minors, Creek has changed its curriculum this year to include younger grades.

“We want to give [students] tools beyond the health curriculum, to make sure that there’s an awareness that [sexual assault] can happen,” Silva said.

According to Silva, since assault can occur while kids are still in school, younger high school students should have the opportunity to learn about sexual assault rather than only receiving that education at the end of senior year.
Kayla Robinson, 2021 Creek graduate who attended Koestner’s presentation as a senior, thinks the expansion is a well overdue change.

“I don’t think the person who gets [sexually] assaulted their freshman year should have to wait till their junior or senior year to learn about the challenges relating to it,” Robinson said.

Assistant Principal Krista Keogh works with Koestner every year to plan her presentations. Because of the variety of ages at Creek, Keogh and Koestner agreed it would be best to adjust the program to include the younger grades.

“This year she will focus on healthy relationships for our sophomores and will do role play scenarios with the juniors,” said Keogh.

With any school assembly focused on a triggering topic, there’s a risk of misinformation or bias. Creek hired Koestner because of her personal experiences students relate to, and, after her first presentation, it quickly became a long-term arrangement.

“I felt like it was very validating because of the way she spoke about her trauma- she was one of the first [people] to address it,” Robinson said.

The goal was to speak to students and get them to understand the difficulties and importance of civil communication and the principles of healthy relationships, whether it be romantic or platonic.

“That was something that really hit a nerve with me and a lot of [other] people,” Robinson said, “To hear her stand up and speak and not to be ashamed was powerful,” Robinson said.

Keogh noticed a similar reception among many other students. Many think that Koestner’s presentation is influential. It speaks to them and validates their traumas.

“Every year we hear back from many students that is the most impactful speaker they have heard in their time at Creek,” Keogh said.