Shield Mentors Ease Transition to High School

   The transition from middle school to high school is never easy, and the Fenwick administration has long recognized that this transition can be especially difficult for some. In response, they have instituted the Shield, a new student mentorship program for incoming freshmen, helping them to get acclimated to high school.

     Upperclassmen mentors meet with their mentees weekly, then biweekly as the freshmen grow more accustomed to becoming Friars. The mentors, along with Ms. Visteen, Ms. Power and numerous teachers willing to assist with the program, also organize monthly meetings for the entire freshman class. The Shield has already been a huge part of the freshmen’s lives, as the program played a massive role in assisting freshman orientation. Numerous activities, including a scavenger hunt, allowed the freshmen to receive a fun and interactive tour of the school and to begin building friendships with one another. 

     Ms. Visteen and Ms. Power first dreamt of the idea when they noticed some students, even upperclassmen, feeling isolated. Ms. Power noted the consequences of feeling this isolation, such as lower grades, feelings of anxiety and depression, and school refusal. School refusal occurs when students are too anxious to come to school. 

     “From the moment they walk into this building, we want them to feel that they’re a part of this community,” Ms. Power said, noting the well-known importance of community at Fenwick. 

     Assigning an entire new class of Friars to an upperclassmen mentors is not an easy feat. Ms. Power gives Ms. Visteen the credit for creating and organizing the program. “Ms. Visteen is really the one who’s taken it by the reins and run with it,” she said.

     The end goal of the program is for students to form lasting bonds and friendships with each other. Ms. Power describes how the division between classes at Fenwick are easily perceptible, and she hopes that the Shield will blur those lines in order to strengthen the Fenwick community.