by Hallie Gordon
From transitioning to a new daily schedule as summer ends to setting the clocks back an hour for daylight savings, change is hard for everyone. However, one of the hardest changes we all go through is the switch from middle school to high school. To alleviate some of the stress that comes with this huge transition, Byram Hills has created the Mentor program. Mentor is a class designed to help freshmen feel more comfortable in the high school. Each class of freshmen is assigned two senior mentors to make this difficult transition easier. The first few weeks of Mentor consist of fun-filled icebreaker activities, helping everyone get settled with their schedules, and Q&As where freshmen get a chance to ask their senior mentors any questions they have. After these first few weeks, the senior mentors design classes to teach students lessons that benefit them both inside and outside of school. However, Mentor is far more than just lessons! An all-time favorite is the Mentor yogi-ball (a form of kickball) tournament, which everyone seems to love! Overall, the Mentor program has continued to bring positive experiences to the incoming class of freshmen every year.
When freshman Sydney Levy was asked about how the program has helped her adjust to the high school, she said that “it gives [her] the opportunity to ask questions and seek advice from two seniors who have already been in [her] position.” The mentors are always helpful and allow students to ask questions ranging from various topics. In addition, mentors are also very helpful outside of the classroom. Freshman Jake Goldman stated that his mentors “help [him] find a class or a room [he needs] to go to for an after-school club.” With this being said, it is clear that mentors are a useful guide for their students. Finally, when being asked about her favorite thing to do during the class, Levy said that it was yogi-ball because it creates a “fun, competitive atmosphere… everyone cheers for everyone and encourages each other to do their best.” The mentors do a great job by creating a “judgement-free” space so that all participants can have a good time.
While the students have a large role in the mentor classes, the mentors themselves play an even bigger one. When current mentor Elyse Kanner was asked about what her goal as a mentor is, she responded that her goal was “to make freshmen more comfortable in the transition process and to hopefully leave a positive impact on them so that one day, they’ll pay it forward.” Mentors are a great resource for the students because they are always willing to help. Additionally, she reflected on her experience when she was a freshman. When talking about it, she claimed that “her experience was very positive… it was nice to have senior familiar faces and people [she] could always go to…” Knowing a senior in school makes being a new freshman less intimidating.
Finally, when the head of the mentor program, Mr. Andriello, was asked about the purpose of the program he responded, that its goal is “to help eighth graders transition into high school and to help build a class community and a ninth grade community.” Mentor has served many purposes to help make the freshmen experience the best it can be for many years and is continuing to do so!