Freshmen Seminar and Senior Mentor

Freshmen Seminar and Senior Mentor

The perfect book ends to high school.
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Going into high school, almost every freshman has some anxiety. For many this means the fear of making friends, or even fear of the upperclassmen. It’s common in movies to see the bigger seniors bullying the freshmen. I was lucky enough to go to a high school that created a program that made these fears obsolete.

A year prior to my entrance into high school, Sandwich High School rolled out a new class that freshmen could take called “Freshmen Seminar." This course runs concurrently with another class entitled “Senior Mentor." The freshmen seminar class is centered around the idea of preparing the freshmen for the next four years in high school. There is a group of seniors placed in this class and they serve the role of senior mentors.

The freshmen are divided into a few groups that are referred to as pods and the seniors divide themselves amongst the pods. The seniors work on essential skills that they will need in high school and life. These lessons included public speaking, homework/study skills, tying a tie, and many other useful tips. I was lucky enough to be a part of this program as both a freshman and a senior mentor.

Going into my first day of freshmen year, I was incredibly nervous. Many of my closest friends had gone off to private or charter high schools. My first class that day was Freshmen Seminar. I knew the minute I walked into the classroom that it would be one of my favorite classes because of the high energy and the seniors' warm welcomes. My class was small and when we divided into groups it was just two other students and I, along with our three mentors.

We began our first class with a public speaking exercise that focused on eye contact. Our teacher, Mr. Dumas, lined us all up in two lines facing each other and made us stare into each other's eyes and then we worked our way down the line. It was beyond awkward; however, it got us all out of our shells and we began to bond as a class. This made a huge difference for me because it gave me a group of people that I was comfortable with and that I could call my friends.

We played a ton of games throughout the semester and became overly competitive with one another. I dreaded public speaking days, but I did see myself improving in presentations as the semester progressed.The worst part of the class was that at the time, each student had it for only a month and then they switched to another class. My biggest take away as a freshman was how much the seniors care about us freshmen. They went out of their way to say hello in the hallways and they were always there when we needed them. This made me want to apply to be a mentor.

Fast forward three years and I walked into that same classroom on the first day of school, but this time was different because I was a senior mentor. The class itself had also changed. Instead of having it for about a month of the semester, the freshmen had it all semester, every other day. The seniors had it every day with two different groups of freshmen. Instead of entering the room as a timid freshman, I was comfortable and beyond excited to see my fellow mentors.

The first day of the class sets the mood for the rest of the semester and it is up to the senior mentors to create a positive environment. As the seniors laughed and talked with Mr. Dumas, the freshmen filed in. The class began with introductions and we then moved into our lines for the eye contact game. Everyone was laughing and it was evident that the freshmen’s discomfort began to fade after a few rounds.

We got into our pods and at that time none of us realized how close we would get. The semester moved on and we did similar activities from my freshmen year; however, I got to see the freshmen improve. I loved helping my younger peers with homework and bonding with them. I liked the class as a freshman; however, I loved it as a senior.

As a freshman, I understood the impact the class had on the freshmen; however, I did not realize the impact it had on the seniors. At the end of the semester, many of us seniors were beyond sad that the class was over. During our final class we all circled up and reflected on the semester. One of the seniors of course had to toss on some solemn music and then Mr. Dumas asked us to share our favorite moments.

My favorite moment during the class was when we were doing a team building project with our pods and all of the seniors were told to step back and we saw all of the freshmen working together and completing the challenge. It was amazing to see our shy freshmen from the first day of the semester to that moment. The freshmen talked about how it impacted them and the seniors sat their proud of the people that they had become.

This class teaches the seniors how to be leaders and gives them the opportunity to help the freshmen class. The circle ended with tears and hugs. Many of the mentors explained at our debriefing that they found that this class made them look at how the acted in their lives. They felt as if they had to carry themselves in a way that the freshmen could look up to. I left this class having formed relationships with both the freshmen and the other seniors. Many of the seniors were from different friend groups and had different interests. A few of the seniors had never even been in a class with me. By the end of the class we were all friends and celebrated the end by going to breakfast with each other. As the freshmen filed out on that last day, the seniors circled up around the teacher’s lab bench, like we had done every morning for the past semester, and we ended our first semester of senior year.

This is the type of class that should be offered at many high schools because it creates a positive start to high school. You learn essential skills such as public speaking and those that choose to bookend their high school years by becoming a mentor, learn skills that colleges and employers look for. Mentors learn listening skills, as well as leadership. You have to be able to work through conflict and solve problems. You do not just leave the class with those skills, but with long lasting relationships with your pod. I have pictures of my pods hanging in my dorm and I am proud to see my freshmen from last year enjoying their sophomore year.

Click here to learn more about the class through the eyes of the freshmen, seniors, and administration of Sandwich High School.

Cover Image Credit: Sandwich High School

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I'd Rather Be Single Than Settle – Here Is Why Being Picky Is Okay

They're on their best behavior when you're dating.
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Dating nowadays described in one word: annoying.

What's even more annoying? when people tell you that you're being too "picky" when it comes to dating. Yes, from an outside perspective sometimes that's exactly what it looks like; however, when looking at it from my perspective it all makes sense.

I've heard it all:

"He was cute, why didn't you like him?"

"You didn't even give him a chance!"

"You pay too much attention to the little things!"

What people don't understand is that it's OKAY to be picky when it comes to guys. For some reason, girls in college freak out and think they're supposed to have a boyfriend by now, be engaged by the time they graduate, etc. It's all a little ridiculous.

However, I refuse to put myself on a time table such as this due to the fact that these girls who feel this way are left with no choice but to overlook the things in guys that they shouldn't be overlooking, they're settling and this is something that I refuse to do.

So this leaves the big question: What am I waiting for?

Well, I'm waiting for a guy who...

1. Wants to know my friends.

Blessed doesn't even begin to describe how lucky I am to have the friends that I do.

I want a guy who can hang out with my friends. If a guy makes an effort to impress your friends then that says a lot about him and how he feels about you. This not only shows that he cares about you but he cares about the people in your life as well.

Someone should be happy to see you happy and your friends contribute to that happiness, therefore, they should be nothing more than supportive and caring towards you and your friendships.

2. Actually, cares to get to know me.

Although this is a very broad statement, this is the most important one. A guy should want to know all about you. He should want to know your favorite movie, favorite ice cream flavor, favorite Netflix series, etc. Often, (the guys I get stuck on dates with) love to talk about themselves: they would rather tell you about what workout they did yesterday, what their job is, and what they like to do rather than get to know you.

This is something easy to spot on the first date, so although they may be "cute," you should probably drop them if you leave your date and can recite everything about their life since the day they were born, yet they didn't catch what your last name was.

3. How they talk about other women.

It does not matter who they're talking about, if they call their ex-girlfriend crazy we all know she probably isn't and if she is it's probably their fault.

If they talk bad about their mom, let's be honest, if they're disrespecting their mother they're not going to respect you either. If they mention a girl's physical appearances when describing them. For example, "yeah, I think our waitress is that blonde chick with the big boobs"

Well if that doesn't hint they're a complete f* boy then I don't know what else to tell you. And most importantly calling other women "bitches" that's just disrespectful.

Needless to say, if his conversations are similar to ones you'd hear in a frat house, ditch him.

4. Phone etiquette.

If he can't put his phone down long enough to take you to dinner then he doesn't deserve for you to be sitting across from him.

If a guy is serious about you he's going to give you his undivided attention and he's going to do whatever it takes to impress you and checking Snapchat on a date is not impressive. Also, notice if his phone is facedown, then there's most likely a reason for it.

He doesn't trust who or what could pop up on there and he clearly doesn't want you seeing. Although I'm not particularly interested in what's popping up on their phones, putting them face down says more about the guy than you think it does.

To reiterate, it's okay to be picky ladies, you're young, there's no rush.

Remember these tips next time you're on a date or seeing someone, and keep in mind: they're on their best behavior when you're dating. Then ask yourself, what will they be like when they're comfortable? Years down the road? Is this what I really want? If you ask yourself these questions you might be down the same road I have stumbled upon, being too picky.. and that's better than settling.

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A Few Birthday Thoughts

Goodbye teenage years, hello twenties!

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So, it is looking like I am about to leave my teenage years behind. I think that I want to reflect back on this time in my life and think about what I want to keep with me in my twenties and maybe some things I can let go. My teenage years have been full of love from my family and friends; hard work to make good grades in school and creating art. I developed several great friendships that I have held on to across the miles even though I went to college 14 hours away from our previous home. I am so thankful for the friendships I have made in college as well.

It seems like friends you make in your childhood and younger years can really stand the test of time. Maybe it is because when you became friends you were truly who you were. Everyone was genuine and didn't put up walls to protect themselves. You got to know someone on a deeper more personal level more quickly than if you had met later in life. I also think we laughed even more as children and that always creates good memories to look back on. So I think in my twenties I will try to hang on to the "childish" way of making friends. I will try to show my true self and will accept them for who they are, and we will laugh....a lot.

I think a good thing to let go of is always trying to make dead-end relationships work. When we were children on the playground and we tried to play a game together or jump rope and it just wasn't working, we would run off and find someone else. It was easy. It was just natural. Now sometimes I find myself trying to stay in a relationship by being overly nice, giving gifts, trying to find what pushes the persons "good" buttons. I might spend so much time trying to figure this person out that I leave out more solid relationships that are worth my time. So in my twenties, I will try to be more realistic about who to spend my time on. Some people are just never going to stand the test of time. I can continue to be cordial but won't let them rule my time and thought life.

As children, we loved our parents and siblings and would show love to them in a myriad of ways. Maybe it was hugs, pictures on the fridge, good night kisses, playing games, or just quality time spent together as a family. Starting my twenties, I am mature enough to realize the value of these people in my life. Thankfully, I have always known this. I was never the type that was embarrassed if someone saw me walking with my Mom or Dad or being dropped off in the Mom Van somewhere. I always knew these people loved me more than anyone else I was about to meet. But in my twenties, I plan to keep up with my family even when I am eight hours away from them. We are never too old to need the love of family.

As weird as it is to say goodbye to my teenage years, it's honestly helped me to soak in the precious moments of everyday life and treasure them even more. Every year when birthdays come around, it always serves as a reminder how quickly the days, months, and years fly by. I think that has been one difficult part of this birthday season. It's hard to say goodbye to the past, without a clear map of the future. But, I must remind myself that this is why growing up is a beautiful thing- as we live life and experience new things, we are better prepared for what the future may hold. Everything that I have experienced in my 20 years has served an important purpose- to make me into the person I am supposed to become. Yes, life is always changing and so am I... and change can be hard. Very hard. But one thing to remember is God is always constant. He will never change. No matter what number is on your birthday cake, He is always there...the same God yesterday, today and tomorrow. He is the Rock that we will always be able to cling to. Isn't that a wonderful thought? Even if we don't know what's in His plans for us in the coming year, it's important to make Him a part of our plans. Rather than worry about change, let's embrace it all- the good and the bad- and look to the Lord to see how He will guide and shape us.

Teenage years- the time has come. I must say goodbye to you now. But, you will never be forgotten. I will hold your memories in my heart forever. Twenties- I am excited for all that awaits me.

"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go." - Joshua 1:9

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