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Salem High Ignites Change

Salem High Students Help Freshman Transition Into High School

by Madison Borden


For many former middle schoolers, high school can be a complicated and frightening transition. But this year, Salem High is taking a positive approach to welcoming freshmen into the school.  In partnership with the Ignitions program, five teachers and over ninety mentors, a mixture of juniors and seniors, welcomed new students at Freshman Orientation.

In preparation for the event, the mentors and advisors took two days out of their summer in order to meet, plan, and organize Freshman Orientation. Within the two days, the mentors learned how to direct activities as well as how to run the obstacle courses.  These enriching activities were designed to help the freshman to be more active, while also promoting self confidence and a positive attitude.  The experience was very enjoyable for all because it was able to unite different parts of the student body in order to put together an amazing event for the freshman.

When the day finally arrived, it was filled with much enthusiasm as the mentors and mentees met for the first time. Mentors were able to put their newly found skills to the test and connect with freshman on a whole new level. The 8 hour day seemed to fly by as the group of freshman and mentors competed, laughed, and got to know each other.  It was also a great time for the mentor leaders to see a bond form between the older and younger students.

This project started after high school senior Tayla O’Leary took an Advanced Health class her junior 14224814_196731304079227_7317632758393370976_nyear. This class is intended to provide students with the opportunity to demonstrate the importance of a healthy lifestyle with the public.  She explained that as a freshman, [she] had low self esteem and wished that [she] had had a mentor to help her feel more comfortable in high school, since the transition isn’t always the smoothest.  By having guides that gives recommendations and reinforcement, Tayla is optimistic that the new students will gain confidence, leading them to be very successful during school year.

By incorporating this program into the freshman’s weekly schedule, the mentors hope that the freshman will be more involved with activities both inside and outside of the school, making them more informed and responsible citizens.  The most important task for the upper school students will, of course, be to maintain their mentorship status as the year continues. This means spending at least an hour each week giving advice and supporting the freshman to get out of their comfort zone and take more chances academically.

I sat down with m14192021_192828841136140_9105979992520838699_nentor advisor Melissa St. Pierre and asked her what goals the advisors hope to reach and what she would like the school to learn from this experience.  She stated that, “The goal of the program is to bring the school together as a community.  Upper class students get to act as role models while the younger students have someone to look up to. It’s a win win for everyone.”

She then goes on to say: “Within the program we set two standards. The first is that in the 2016-2017 school year, 90% of the students come to school 90% of the time. The second is that at least 65% of students will be a part of a club, sport, or activity.”  Mentors and advisors both believe that supporting the freshman to participate in school activities early is the best way to get them to involved in the future.

When outside of the building, mentors and the class of 2020 can stay connected on numerous social media accounts, including Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. These accounts allow the underclassmen to see any upcoming events that may be of interest to them.  All of these accounts can be followed under the Salem Ignition tag.

The mentors would like to give a big shout out to the advisors, who spent countless hours planning out these events and helping to ensure that everything runs smoothly. In reaction to that, Salem High would like to thank the mentors for making a difference by devoting their time to making the school a more welcoming environment for incoming students. Your leadership abilities are igniting fellow students to become involved in their community. What a wonderful way to start the school year!  

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