The Edmond Sun

Education

September 20, 2013

Learning to be a ‘dog’ Memorial style

School officials tout student-led mentoring program

EDMOND — Upperclassmen at Memorial High School are building relationships by mentoring underclassmen on how to live a DOGS’ life.

Advisory period at Memorial has been around in some way, shape or form for the past 13 years. The period where underclassmen are “taught the ropes” has morphed from a teacher led activity into a time slot that is being run by upperclassmen, and it seems to be working for Memorial students, mentors and freshmen alike.

“We asked for student volunteers to help with the program three years ago and be Bulldog mentors for the freshmen students,” said Freshman Principal Carrie Higdon. “As we changed the program from a teacher led one to more of a student led one both the mentors and the freshmen seemed to have more fun and it was more successful. This year we had 150 juniors and seniors volunteer to be Bulldog mentors.”

Mentoring requires training and the student volunteers show up at the school during the summer and train for two days in August.

Originally, the mentors were assigned to freshman classrooms, and they would go over specific topics with a classroom of students. That all changed this year and now the students in the classrooms are divided into smaller groups and the mentors take a group of students to the cafeteria to go over a pre-assigned topic.

“It is all about building relationships,” Higdon said. “The mentors meet with their groups in a casual group and they teach the freshmen what is expected from them to be Memorial DOGS.

“The freshmen learn to: Do the right thing; Own your own actions; Give respect; and Speak positively and appropriately,” Higdon said.

Friday, the mentors gave each of the freshmen in their group a rubber bracelet with D-O-G-S stamped on it.

Through trial and error the Memorial staff has developed what they believe is a pretty successful program.

“We have found the freshmen tend to listen to their peers,” Higdon said. “The mentors have a guide to follow and today it is about friendship. They play games, share treats and develop relationships. What has made a difference and has been awesome is the Mentors bring their group to the cafeteria.”

Mentors are students who have made positive decisions early in their education, said counselor and sponsor Kay Moore, who uses email and Facebook to communicate with the students.

Mentors are student leaders, athletes, band members, choir participants, honor students and spirit leaders among others, and the school year begins with an Advisory period every week or two the first semester and tapers off as the year progresses to two the second semester.

“We give our students the power to be instructors focused on building relationships,” Higdon said. “We have the most Advisory periods the first semester as we try to help the freshmen become more comfortable in their new home.

“We have found our upperclassmen are proud of their school and the accomplishments of the students and want to share the school’s traditions and get the freshmen involved.”

“It is fun to talk to the freshmen and get to know them,” said senior athlete Charlie Dutton, who is mentoring for the first year.

Senior Emily Holland started mentoring when she was a junior.

“I wanted to mentor freshmen and give them a heads up on what to expect,” Emily said. “What I didn’t realize was that I would become really good friends with them and we still are.”

Senior Ricki Scheef said this is her second year to mentor also. “It is a lot of fun. Last year my group had some really great freshmen girls and we got to form good relationships. They still come up and say, “Hi,” at football games.”

Moore said mentoring is a way to learn leadership skills and develop listening skills as well as communication skills.

“Our mentors also develop empathy for students who may not have had the same opportunities or made all the right choices up to this time,” Moore said.

The upperclassmen can help the freshmen find a place as they learn new traditions and the DOGS’ way of life.

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