Hollister Middle School has found a way to help create bonds to combat bullying, while also helping with the anxiety and stress fifth graders feel when transitioning to middle school.

“The HMS Peer Mentoring program is designed to align with our mission to develop student leadership while fostering caring relationships in order to create a community of learners who are dedicated to serving others,” said Jared Terry, Hollister Middle School principal.

“Eighth grade students have sixth grade mentees. They meet with them at the beginning of the school year and walk them to classes and help the new sixth graders learn their way around. It really helps to acclimate the sixth grade to the building and helps build positive relationships throughout the building/grades,” said Kim Connell, Hollister schools communications director.

This program starts before the sixth grade students even start their first day of middle school.

“In the spring of the student’s fifth grade year, the fifth graders have a day where they come up to the middle school and meet with seventh grade students who will be their mentor the next year,” said Terry. “They start with team-building activities and get to know each other. At the beginning of the new school year, those students are then paired together as sixth and eighth graders. They have a mentor time on the first day of school to meet their mentees and start to build positive relationships with them to help introduce sixth graders to middle school.”

“The first few days those mentors walk students to class to help them learn the building, talk to them about teachers and classes, explain lunch, and answer any other questions the sixth graders may have in transitioning to a new building,” Terry said.

However, this program doesn’t stop after the first week of school.

“Throughout the year, the sixth and eighth students will meet in mentor groups each month. The advisory teacher teams will coordinate all activities for this time. Examples include team building, homework help, walk with mentor, share a new game, etc. Anything that allows the mentor/mentee to build their relationships. Activities to build relationships among the entire cohort (group) could also be included,” Terry said. “Mentors are asked to encourage and help the sixth grade students, say hi to them in the halls, sit together at events and help with homework and other items when needed.”

According to Terry, this program seems to be making a positive impact.

“This program has really developed positive relationships between our grade levels and helped build a positive school culture,” Terry said. “The sixth graders are more comfortable with the building and can learn from someone who walked in their shoes and it gives the eighth grade roles in leadership and serving others. These are skills that will help our kids in middle school and in the future. It truly shows the kids that we are better together.”

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