The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

Next Generation

March 17, 2010

Seniors are mentors for seventh-grade students

Leadership Club members provide positive role models, support for younger teens

JEFFERSON — Everyone knows that high school is the best years of your life. It can also be a very difficult time for some students, with so much change going on at once. Most of the time, all a young adult may need is a little guidance in his life. As experienced and helpful as adults are, it can sometimes be difficult for their advice to be accepted by younger students. This is where the Jefferson Senior Leadership Club found its niche.

In 2002, school administrators at Jefferson needed a way to show the seventh graders what high school is all about. They found that the trouble with this is the level of communication between administration and the young students. This is where the Senior Leadership Club adviser Janis Williams came up with a solution.

“Nobody knows the school and how things work better than the senior class,” said Williams, an English and speech teacher and senior class adviser. “Then I realized, in the eyes of the seventh graders, these seniors are almost ‘gods.’ They regard them with such a high standard and anything they say is ‘gold’ to them, so I figured if I can facilitate these seniors to be direct, positive role models, our school would become a better place starting.”

This idea created the Senior Leadership Club.

Members of the Senior Leadership Club connect with their “little brother” or “little sister” in a variety of ways. Most of the sister pairs keep a journal between each other and find that it is easy to open up and communicate by not being face to face. On the other hand, the men prefer to eat lunch together and discuss what is going on in each other’s lives. Topics range from sports and hunting, to grades and girlfriends, and the casual lunch table atmosphere makes it easier to open up. The results from this small talk and journal writing can vary from just earning a friend, all the way to bully awareness and admittance to self-inflicted pain. For most of the older brothers and sisters, nothing extreme as this will surface, but for a few students, they see their older siblings as a person that they can trust and talk to openly without being judged and generalized.

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