Following last year’s Challenge Day event at Calhoun High School, teacher and adviser Kathryn Alexander wanted to recognize several students who went above and beyond during that time to support their peers.
Challenge Day is a team building and sharing program where sophomores break into groups to participate in exercises designed to form bonds and encourage students who they have the power to be a change in their community.
Alexander invited these students to meet with her and brainstorm on how they could support their classmates on a consistent basis. It was then that a Student Leader team was created.
“I vetted the students by asking them to attend meetings and complete different tasks; the result was a group of students who were serious about peer mentorship,” Alexander explained. “Last year, the students created Student Lounge Days in the library classroom where during an off period their peers could de-stress by relaxing, watching television, enjoying a snack, coloring, playing cards, etc.”
“At the beginning of this year, the Student Leaders presented to all of the entering students at ninth grade orientation,” explained Mike Gavalas, assistant principal. “They shared their experiences at Calhoun with their younger peers and welcomed the ninth grade students to the school community.”
In early October, the Student Leaders met with representative from Northwell to discuss their experiences and receive more formal peer mentorship training. Following that meeting, the six Student Leaders created a PowerPoint to share in freshman classes.
“For the past several days, the Student Leaders have paired up and go into the classes to present, answer questions and offer their assistance as listeners, mediators and support,” added Alexander.
The Team Leaders serve as a peer-to-peer extension to the Counseling and Wellness Center staff.
“We are proud of the Calhoun students for coming up with creative ways to help support their peers,” said Gavalas.