Whitehall-Yearling High School students -- particularly freshmen -- continue to benefit from a three-year-old student-mentoring program through the Defense Logistics Agency Land and Maritime at Defense Supply Center Columbus in Whitehall.

Mentors from the agency visit the high school two Thursdays each month, meeting with students for an hour to help them develop a multitude of life skills.

"These students get the additional individual skills they need to build confidence and leadership skills that will help them achieve (in college or a vocation)," said Nicole Nelson, a teacher at Whitehall-Yearling.

All but five of the 24 students participating in the mentorship program are freshmen; the few upperclassmen are those who have remained in the program for consecutive years.

Sophomore Autumn Walden was part of the program last year.

"It has helped me learn patience and to speak better in class," she said.

Nelson said she seeks referrals from eighth-grade teachers at Rosemore Middle School each year to learn which students would benefit most from the program.

"These are students not with any discipline problems but who might struggle socially, who are shy or might have lower self-esteem or speech difficulties," Nelson said.

D'Andre Layne, a junior at Whitehall-Yearling, said the mentorship program has helped him improve his grades and also his relationship-building skills at school and at home.

Those who provide the mentoring said they also benefit from the experience.

Marc Wheat, a human-resources specialist at DLA Land and Maritime, said he chose to be a mentor "to give back to the community."

"I know how vital it is to have good mentors and role models in your life (as a teen)," said Wheat, adding it is a pleasure to watch those he mentors succeed.

Debra Hobbs coordinates the mentorship program at DSCC, which recently expanded to include boys.

The first year, only girls were accepted through its sponsorship with the Federal Women's Program, but after many boys asked about joining, it was opened up to all Whitehall-Yearling students, Hobbs said.

The sessions generally include workshops or one-on-one sessions.

"One of our workshops is called My Vision and asks students to explore their plans -- Will they go to college? What will they study? What kind of job do they want?" Hobbs said.

Other workshops teach financial management, resume writing, and interview preparations, she said.

Paul Smathers, principal of Whitehall-Yearling High School, said he is glad students have the opportunity to participate in the mentorship program.

"The DSCC has been a tremendous asset to many of our students," Smathers said. "This collaboration helps our students become happy, productive and successful citizens."

The partnership, Smathers said, "makes a real and authentic difference (and) is an example of how the entire community works together to help our students dream and learn."

kcorvo@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekCorvo