By Hallie Gordon
If you were to ask any freshman about a highlight of their year, I guarantee they would say the mentor program! The program is truly a memorable and impactful experience where freshmen learn valuable life lessons as well as have lots of fun. The community that the class creates with not only their mentors but also their classmates is one of the many things that makes the program so great. While the hybrid learning program has definitely made the community aspect more of a challenge, the mentors and teachers are working hard to provide all freshmen with the authentic mentor program all students love.
The head of the program Mr. Andriello is constantly working hard and coming up with creative ideas to cover all aspects of the program. This task, though, is definitely not an easy one. He shares, “Hybrid learning has been a challenge, but the mentor teachers and senior mentors have risen to that challenge and defeated it. The biggest hurdle is that, since the class is split-up, we have almost two mini-Mentor classes, each led by a mentor. That said, I still hear about senior mentors saying hi to their mentees in the hallway, and I think that we have found a way to make sure the idea of mentor is still happening.”
One of the greatest parts of the program is Yogi Ball, a fun game similar to kickball where all classes compete against each other until one is declared the champion. This game really helps to build a sense of community. The mentors and teachers designed mentor MANIA to try and create the same class community that Yogi Ball did. Mr. Andriello explains, “For this year we have Mentor MANIA!! Every Wednesday afternoon, from 1:10-1:40 the “in school” kids go back to their mentor classes, and compete in a mentor-wide Kahoot. Each class works to come up with an answer, and after 25 questions, the mentor class with the most points wins. Meanwhile, the “at-home” kids are given a Creative Challenge, something they must solve in twenty-five minutes. Then, their solutions are given to Mr. Walsh and Mrs. Sautner who rank them 1st-8th.” He constantly recognizes how hardworking the mentors have been when adjusting the program.
Many of the mentors struggle to build relationships with the half of the alphabet that they do not see in person. Mentor Skylar Silverstein shares, “My partner and I can tell that we are more closer to our sides of the alphabet than the other. I’ve spoken to the other mentees, but it’s easier to form a bond when they are in class with me.” Mentor Aidan Cogan states, “As a mentor, it’s important to me that all of my mentees are doing well both academically and socially, yet it is far more clear to me and easier to help when they seem to have an issue if I am in the building with them.” Mentor Sam Lubcher explains that another strain on his relationships with his mentees is the fact that they only have class together three times a week. He explains, “We have come to class ready everyday with not just a plan b, but a plan a-z for all the curve balls that have been thrown our way.”
The mentors have the challenge of creating a class community with half of the class online. Skylar Silverstein explains that they have to change lessons to make sure that both sides are having fun, which causes the class to move at a slower pace. Despite the difficulties, she “think[s] both sides have gotten the same things out of the mentor so far even if they are a few days off!” Even though Aidan Cogan notes that social distancing and technology difficulties have affected almost every single lesson, he expresses how positive the students are. Sam Lubcher shares, “While it is difficult to build the community given these circumstances, especially with students’ ability to go on mute during virtual activities, our community has grown nonetheless, and it is really amazing to see.”
Despite all of the challenges, the mentors and teachers are clearly working as hard as possible to provide the freshmen with the best mentor experience possible!