Making an Impact as a Mentor


Cate Spirgel

Freshmen mentors welcome a new class to Yorktown

Claire Kuwana, Sentry Staff Reporter

High school is often considered to be one of the most difficult times of one’s adolescence, and freshman year is arguably one of the hardest of the years to adjust to. In order to make the transition less overwhelming, the Mentor Program  was created to help freshmen adapt to high school by assigning them a mentor to guide them throughout the course of the year. Every year, each mentor is randomly paired up with a few freshmen and then acts as a guide for them for the remainder of their freshman year. Then, over the course of the year, the mentors meet with their “mentees” a few times for workshops, field days and instructional activities. However, last year the program has expanded to accommodate both transfer students and High Intensity Language Training (HILT) students. Any transfer student, no matter if they are a freshman or not, will also be assigned a mentor to help them adapt to their new school. These changes also include a new approach in which HILT freshmen are paired up with other mentors who are also HILT students. Overall, many students, both freshmen and upperclassmen, value this program and believe that it is beneficial.

“It gives freshmen helpful advice they are not able to get from teachers… my favorite part is meeting new people I would not usually be able to meet and helping the freshmen get accustomed to high school,” sophomore mentor Gillian Schiffer said. For the freshmen, this program provides them with someone who they can go to with whatever they need throughout the year.

“There is always someone who can answer any school related questions I have,” freshman Bergen Romness said. For some, this program simply provides them with a mentor who serves as a friend, or even just a familiar face in a sea of new people.

“My favorite part is having someone that says hi to me in the halls all the time,” freshman Ryan Kovarovics said.

On the flip side, many students think that there is definitely room for improvement when it comes to the mentor program.

“The program is worth having but should be used more to the freshmen’s advantage and should be implemented more throughout the year… we do not get together with our mentors often, and when we do, the activities aren’t that exciting,” Romness said.  This idea of having mentors meet with their mentees more often was undoubtedly the most frequent suggestion made by those involved in the program.

“If I could change anything, I would have more events throughout the year because we only meet with [the freshmen] three or four times,” Schiffer said.

“I would change it so there are more mentor-mentee activities throughout the year,” Kovarovics said.

However, this increase in meetings may cause a problem for upperclassmen, as an issue some upperclassmen have encountered when participating in this program is having to take time out of the school day to meet with their mentees.

“My least favorite part of the mentor program is having to miss hard classes that I have to make up work in,” Schiffer said. Despite this, Schiffer, like many others, plans on being a mentor again next year. In order to become one, each student must complete an application that includes a written explanation of why he or she should be a mentor. Then, mentors are selected based on multiple factors.

“We ask for a teacher recommendation, so we do look at those. Leadership, being outgoing, being involved, not only in school but outside of school. But not overly involved, a nice balance of different commitments,” health teacher Stephanie Meadows said. Although these may seem like difficult characteristics to find, this program tends to be extremely accepting in who it chooses due to its increasing need for mentors.

“It’s gotten really popular, so a lot of kids do it now. What would be ideal is… to have it so enough upperclassmen apply so it’s a one on one instead of one on three or four,” Meadows said.

So, if you are looking for a way to help others and make an everlasting impact on someone’s high school experience, apply to be a mentor. Applications are due today in room 249 or 246. And if you missed the chance to grab an application this time around, look out for another opportunity to apply next year!