Mentorship Program Aims to Ease Transition

Illustration by Eva Homberger

Illustration by Eva Homberger

At one time or another, each Friar has walked through the glass doors of the atrium for the first time.

For most, this first trip through the halls of Fenwick came on the day of freshman orientation.

Each student has experienced that feeling of nervousness, excitement, and a small amount of fear upon seeing their 300 new classmates sitting row by row in the auditorium.

Many recall meeting their first friend at Fenwick while waiting for Mr. Groom to address the class for the first time.

Freshman orientation is the first staple of the Fenwick experience, but the continuing discomfort of the high school transition after the initial orientation is often glossed over.

As students make the jump from middle school to high school, freshmen often feel alone and uncomfortable in their new home at Fenwick.

In order to ease this transition, a new initiative, called the Shield Mentorship Program, will be implemented next year.

Shield Mentors is a program that gives freshmen at Fenwick the opportunity to connect with upperclassmen and look to these mentors for advice throughout the year.

The idea for the program comes from Marmion Academy, where Dr. Quaid previously worked as headmaster.

Dr. Quaid and the faculty at Fenwick realized that anxiety and the feeling of loneliness was prevalent among many freshmen at orientation. To avoid these feelings in the future, Fenwick decided to adopt the idea of a group of mentors for the freshmen.

Dr. Quaid emphasized that freshmen need mentors who will help them with any questions or problems they may have, not, as he jokingly remarked, “someone who wants to sell them a pool or elevator pass.”

Through the program, upperclassmen will serve as resources to freshmen at Fenwick. Each student will have a support group made of these mentors, a counselor, and a faculty advisor in order to help them with the transition into high school.

Students will meet with their mentors frequently over the course of the year. The hope for the program is that mentors will be able to help the freshmen as “trusted guides.”

Mentors must first submit an application in order to be considered for the program. If the application is approved, the mentor then must go through a training process involving three 75 minute training sessions, along with two half day training sessions before freshman orientation in August.

In these sessions, mentors will learn skills for helping with the high school transition. Through the program, mentors learn about the responsibilities and the purpose of Shield Mentorship, as well as create and plan events and activities for the new students.

Training will involve students using active learning skills in order to develop their leadership skills.

Once training is finished for the mentors, they will be paired with freshmen based on shared interests as well as availability in schedules.

At most, one mentor will have three or four mentees and will work to maintain strong, healthy relationships with each mentee. Therefore, 75-100 ambitious upperclassmen will participate, and develop integral leadership skills.

Junior Grace Dougan, who will be mentoring for the program next year, says “Personally, I want to give incoming freshmen the support they need to thrive. I want to let them know that Friars always uplift Friars.”

On occasion, members will enter freshmen-only classes to talk with the students about different topics involving Fenwick, and even moderate activities to help the freshmen better assimilate to Fenwick.

As the mentors begin to prepare for the upcoming school year with their first training session in March, many feel an excitement for the future Friars.
With enthusiasm from its members and its strong purpose, the Shield mentorship program looks to be a pertinent aspect of Fenwick in the coming years.