Freshman Mentor Club proceeds despite unique challenges

Freshmen meet outside with their mentors during a meeting in October.

Photo Credit: Tina Bacolas

Freshmen meet outside with their mentors during a meeting in October.

by Rob Zamparelli, Co-Editor-in-Chief

Despite Covid- 19 affecting many aspects of the school systems, the Freshmen Mentor Club is continuing its efforts to help new freshmen with the transition from the middle school to the high school. The freshmen this year face a unique challenge: hybrid learning, which is not an easy task for any student in general.

The Freshmen Mentor Club was founded last school year by Melinda Somers and Assistant Principal Tina Bacolas. With Somers graduating, current seniors Puja Parikh and Nick Hernandez have taken over her role in assisting Bacolas. 

Hernandez’s experience as a freshman was one of the main reasons he decided to take over: “I personally had a difficult transition into high school from middle school, and I knew I could’ve done better my freshman year.”

The students who would like to become mentors need to obtain a teacher recommendation as a step in the application process. These recommendations should demonstrate the applicant’s ability to be a strong role model, someone who can be looked up to.

“They have to show effort and commitment to their school work and any other extracurricular activity they participate in,” Hernandez said.

Each group has around three to four mentors and they are responsible for a group of 10-12 current freshmen and stay with them throughout the year. 

During the school year, mentors are trained before each outreach meeting with their group. Training includes a plan of what the agenda is for the upcoming outreach meetings so the mentors are prepared.

“The club has taught me some important tips for the school year such as staying organized and keeping up with events around school,” current freshmen Matt DeStaso said. 

Mentors are someone their freshmen can rely on if needed. If they are struggling with anything related to school or anything else out of school, mentors are always there to help.

“They are more than just mentors, but they also act as upperclassmen friends that can give support, both moral and academic,” Hernandez explained.

Due to the current pandemic, the club obviously is being run differently than the previous year.One of the few challenges the mentors have to face is that some groups only have remote students. Most meetings are held outside  this year if the weather is  cooperative, and some groups are online if they are remote.

Hernandez is very excited about  how the club is operating so far. His main goal is trying to make it as “inclusive as possible for remote and hybrid students, while following the safety protocols.”