Dublin Villager

Jerome mentoring program pairs seniors with freshman

By ThisWeek Community News  • 

There's a lot more to high school than just showing up.

Through the Celtic Advisory Program, Jerome High School juniors and seniors are hoping to take some of the mystery out of high school and help freshman have a successful experience.

"I loved the program. I had a really good mentors class (as a freshman)," said Chase Stewart, a Jerome senior who is a program leader this year.

"I'm still friends with some of my mentors," Stewart said.

The goal of the Celtic Advisory Program is to help freshmen get oriented, make friends and ask questions they can't ask teachers.

"One of the best things is the unwritten rules," said Senior Tommy Scott, also a program leader.

"You figure out some stuff like guys ask girls to Homecoming and you have to buy the girl a flower," Scott said. "How else do you know that? Your parents don't know that."

This year 274 Jerome High School freshmen will be mentored by 78 juniors and seniors. CAP is a class in students' schedules and about five mentors are paired with a group of 25 freshmen.

"It functions as a study hall," said Jerome Teacher Magen Beatty, who advises the program with Lori Davis.

"You have time to work in study hall, but also make sure (high school) isn't a scary place," Beatty said. "You're collaborating with a group that makes freshmen become part of the high school."

"Every year I don't think it can get better, but it does," Davis said, adding they had to choose 78 mentors from more than 120 applicants.

CAP has been going on for six years and was taken by all students when the high school had eight periods.

Because the school day was shortened to seven periods, freshmen can choose to be part of CAP and about 70 percent are in it this year.

By now mentors have gone through the program themselves, getting social and academic help from their mentors and attending activities like tailgate parties and food collections.

As a freshman, Scott said talking to upper classmen made him feel like he fit in, which doesn't really jibe with the usual high school social structure.

"To have a senior come up to you and say 'Hi,' that's amazing," Scott said. "It goes against everything in high school."

Now heading the group, Stewart and Scott helped students get through first day jitters with a tour, scavenger hunt, lunch, activities and ice cream social.

Scott went in front of the group with five other mentors and danced to make freshmen feel comfortable.

"We make ourselves look so dumb," he said. "It breaks down walls. It's the most fun way to get the freshmen comfortable."

Instead of using a period for early release, Davis said the mentors are using their time to help underclassmen through academics and social quandaries.

"It takes tremendous work on their part," she said. "They've chosen to be here to mentor our kids."

"We hear (mentors) say 'our students,' " Beatty added. "They really take ownership."

Scott said he sees the experience as rewarding, especially after one freshman told him she ate lunch in the bathroom because she didn't have any friends to sit with before CAP.

"There's nothing more rewarding," Scott said.