Peer leaders train to help freshmen adjust

Juniors+Ellie+Decker+and+Alexis+Lombardo+laugh+while+training+at+a+Peer+Leadership+Program+event+on+June+6+at+school.+Nearly+70+rising+seniors+are+getting+ready+to+lead+groups+of+freshmen+starting+in+August.
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Peer leaders train to help freshmen adjust

Juniors Ellie Decker and Alexis Lombardo laugh while training at a Peer Leadership Program event on June 6 at school. Nearly 70 rising seniors are getting ready to lead groups of freshmen starting in August.

Juniors Ellie Decker and Alexis Lombardo laugh while training at a Peer Leadership Program event on June 6 at school. Nearly 70 rising seniors are getting ready to lead groups of freshmen starting in August.

Lara Del Vecchio

Juniors Ellie Decker and Alexis Lombardo laugh while training at a Peer Leadership Program event on June 6 at school. Nearly 70 rising seniors are getting ready to lead groups of freshmen starting in August.

Lara Del Vecchio

Lara Del Vecchio

Juniors Ellie Decker and Alexis Lombardo laugh while training at a Peer Leadership Program event on June 6 at school. Nearly 70 rising seniors are getting ready to lead groups of freshmen starting in August.

By Lauren Czachor and Megan Osborne

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The Peer Leadership Program aims to help incoming freshmen adjust to the new high school environment with the help of seniors.

The 69 peer leaders, working in pairs, will first meet with the incoming students at freshmen orientation in August where they will be assigned approximately 10 freshmen to a group. They will then meet once a month to discuss the struggles the freshmen have encountered in their high school experience so far, such as friends, classes or sports. Outside of the meetings, the peer leaders will take time to meet with freshmen to go to football games and hang out together.

The upcoming seniors are looking forward to aiding the new students and they believe it will be an opportunity to better themselves and meet new people.

“I hope to be a good influence on the underclassmen and hopefully make new friends,” junior peer leader Emily Amadeo said.

“I will help [the freshmen] by giving them advice [on] how to balance their work and their extracurriculars,” junior peer leader Alexis Lombardo said. “I’ll be approachable in case they have any questions about high school.”

The program was created by a panel of six teachers, who recognized that the previous class’s difficulty of transitioning to the high school. It is common for most freshmen to be hesitant to adapt to the new school setting.

“My switch to high school was difficult because it was a very big school with many new faces,” freshman Gabriel Ruszala said. “The Peer Leadership program could be beneficial in making students feel more comfortable.”

English teacher Alicia Perez, who took part in devising the program, says the stress and anxiety from academics and new social environments when transitioning to high school needed to be directly addressed by the administration

“The idea for the program stemmed from the district’s overall intention to promote greater wellness among students and staff,” Ms. Perez said.

Peer leaders must have certain leadership attributes in order to be accepted into the program. Teachers looked for peer leaders who have a positive attitude and who will motivate and inspire the incoming students.

“We’re not looking for students who get straight A’s because that is not the only factor that exemplifies a peer leader,” Ms. Perez said. “Their ability to reach out to freshmen is ultimately what we’re looking for.”

Toni-Anne Cavallo, Physical Education teacher and program adviser said that the peer leaders already attended a two hour “June Development Day” and over the summer will attend a two-day overnight training at the Fairview Lakes YMCA. The participating students will participate in a number of different activities from a structured curriculum focused on peer leadership, team building, communication and positive reinforcement.

The activities will gear towards helping the seniors learn the skills they will need in order for them to be able to facilitate their own sessions with groups of incoming freshmen.

“Our hope is that the seniors will also be positively impacted through discovering their personal strengths and leadership skills,” Ms. Cavallo said. “By building their own confidences in themselves as leaders through these activities, the new program will be more beneficial.”

The school aims to have a successful first year for the program and hopes to continue to aid the high school transition for future incoming freshmen.

Behind the Byline
Megan Osborne, Staff Writer

Megan Osborne is a Staff Writer. When she's not writing for the paper, you can find her eating junk food and shopping at the mall with Monica. Megan loves...

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Peer leaders train to help freshmen adjust