By U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii, School Liaison Office, News ReleaseFebruary 6, 2009
SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, Hawaii - Every month, military youth are relocating and transitioning into new schools. Thanks to the Army's Child, Youth & School Services (CYS2), Youth Sponsorship Clubs, and the Leilehua High School (LHS) Aloha Ambassadors School Transition Support Program, these new students are being supported and welcomed.
Army children and youth are constantly confronted with many challenges. They have to cope with moving regularly from one location to another, deal with parents being deployed, and adjust to being separated from family and friends.
When children and youth face these obstacles, it is important to assist them in locating other children and youth, who through their own life experience, can relate to these challenges and bring comfort and support.
Krystal Nemetz, a student at Leilehua, has been sponsoring new students through CYS2's Army Youth Sponsorship Program for two years. The program focuses on relocation, adjusting to a new school, and life transitions for incoming students.
Nemetz makes the new students feel at ease by providing relocation support via e-mail or text messaging months before their arrival.
Leilehua's Aloha Ambassadors (AA) provides additional support for new students.
According to the Secondary Education Transition Study, "the most difficult transition that military children and youth experience is school transition, (that is), changing schools." Leilehua has spent years addressing this issue with school administrators, counselors and teachers by raising awareness and developing its Aloha Ambassadors program.
After a transition coordinator greets new students, they are partnered with an Ambassadors peer who creates a welcoming, trusting and helpful school environment. This relationship enables new students to feel completely at ease and a part of their school community.
"I communicate with new incoming students by treating them just like anybody else," said Marissa Diaz. "They are in a new environment, and we want to make them feel welcomed."
Other Aloha Ambassadors students echoed Diaz' sentiments.
"I try to have normal conversations and attempt to explain how the student body in our school behaves," said Elle Bru. "As a general rule, the LHS student body is friendly to others and will easily accommodate incoming young people. The new students usually feel comfortable with this information. If they need help within the next few days, I ... help them out without any hesitation."
Kaina Feaomoeata, a new student, felt very much at ease after being greeted by both Diaz and Bru.
Like other clubs, the Aloha Ambassadors program develops students' leadership skills.
"Because of AA, I am a more confident person," said Diaz. "My leadership skills have flourished. I am dependable and extremely positive."
Aloha Ambassadors also encourages participants to be more well-rounded.
"The AA program has made me become more open and sociable," Bru said. "Usually, I'm a quiet person, but interacting with new students has helped me evolve greatly into a friendlier individual."
For more information about CYS2's AYSP, visit www.mwrarmyhawaii.com, select Child, Youth & School Services, and click on School Age Services or Middle School & Teens Centers or by calling the Youth Education Support Services at (808) 655-9818. For information on the LHS AA program, contact LHS at (808) 622-6550.