Three students from Mount Vernon High School went to the Military Child Education Coalition seminar in Alabama to get information on how to start a Student 2 Student program at the school. The seminar took place Oct. 21-23.

The students, Olivia Kimble, Aaliyah Myers and Moses Abraham, all juniors at Mount Vernon, want to start the program so they can help new military students transition into the school much faster.

"I want to get involved because I always feel bad when I see students sitting alone in the cafeteria or being lost in the hallways," said Kimble. "I know it's hard when you are moving to meet new people and, when they come in on the first day, its very nerve-racking. So, it helps them ease into the school if they have someone to show them around."

Myers, whose mother is a chief petty officer in the Navy, wanted to get involved since she has first-hand experience being a military child coming to a new school.

"When I first moved to this school, on my first day, nobody talked to me and it was hard finding places to sit at lunch," Myers said. "So, I would like to help somebody else who is in the same situation."

The seminar reviewed how the Student 2 Student program builds immediate peer credibility with the new student as well as a positive peer relationship, and it gives the program member an opportunity to share valued information as far as the culture at the school and activities the new student might be interested in.

Kimble, Myers and Abraham had an opportunity to speak to students from other schools within the U.S. that have a Student 2 Student program. Each school shared different ways they have made the transition process easier for new students.

"One of the schools said they give out string bags on the first day of school with a school T-shirt and a ticket to the first football game," said Myers. "They put pencils and pens with the school logo in the bag as well."

Another topic covered in the seminar was the "30 pairs of eyes" concept which means whenever a military child walks into a new classroom they have 30 pairs of eyes on them. Abraham said this concept really resonated with him.

"That statement really stuck with me," said Abraham. "The instructor said one thing we should do is introduce the students to their teachers before the school year starts so they already know who their teachers are and where their rooms are before school starts."

To help ease their transition even more, the three students said they plan on meeting with each new student before school and learning about their interests so they can suggest different activities each student may like to get involved in.

Abraham said he and Kimble went around the cafeteria at the beginning of the school year and helped freshmen who were sitting alone meet other students.

"We still see those kids sitting at the same table with the same people we introduced them to," Abraham said. "So, it was successful."

Matt Beck, 10th to 12th grade guidance counselor at Mount Vernon, who came to the school last year, said he ran a similar program at Woodrow Wilson High School. He said each student was chosen to participate in the program for a specific reason.

"I wanted to make sure that one, they are good kids who are going to do their best in the program and get along with each other while they are involved in the program," Beck said. "Moses and Olivia had already indicated they saw some kids sitting by themselves in the lunch room and decided to introduce them to other students, which is really the foundation of what we are doing. I thought, with that attitude, you really can't go wrong with these kids.

"Aaliyah was recommended to me by her guidance counselor. She moved here her sophomore year and experienced some difficulty initially, but was able to make friends and build relationships," Beck added. "She's a terrific student who's well spoken and just a great kid in general."

Beck said Kimble, Myers and Abraham are going to present the idea for the program to the rest of the Mount Vernon guidance counselors Friday. Once they get feedback from the counselors, they will schedule a meeting with the school's administrators to get final approval.

Each of the three students indicated that Beck has told them the launch and success of the program is their responsibility.

"If we really want this to work, we have to make sure we put the time in ourselves," said Abraham. "The program is student-led, so it's our responsibility to recruit members and get the word out at the school."

They also said they don't want the program to end because they are no longer involved.

"We want the program to be successful," Kimble said. "We want it to continue even after we graduate."

Page last updated Fri November 18th, 2011 at 14:20