By Gabriela Todaro
Junior Baylee Jacobs went to ELO Advisor Donna Couture to put her plan into action. Couture said Jacobs wanted to travel to the four sending middle schools to talk to the eighth graders about what high school is like and talk to the students about the social and emotional aspects of moving into high school instead of just the academic and athletic aspects of high school.
Christa D'Amico has also helped Jacobs develop her idea and mission. Couture approached D'Amico after Jacobs came to her with her plan.
“Jacobs was really focused on the things that she would’ve wanted to know or talked about in 8th grade so kids weren't so isolated moving into school,” Damico said. “Like how can these students feel comfortable moving from 8th grade and then into high school and how you can feel comfortable being here and having those conversations instead of just the school portion.”
D'Amico said that Jacobs had a really strong idea to start and was very focused in the beginning to get it into motion. D'Amico said that Baylee has come a long way in developing her idea. D'Amico and Couture said they helped Jacobs develop her plan, her pitch to the sending middle schools and how she wanted to continue this club into the future.
Jacobs worked closely with fellow student Sophie Rummler to put her plan into action. Together they helped form Jacob’s idea into a reality.
“We want to travel to the four sending middle schools and teach individuality and acceptance to the incoming freshmen,” Rummler said. “This includes feeling c
omfortable with your extracurricular, how to find friends, accepting of sexual orientation/gender identity, etc,”
Rummler said on Friday May 13 the group is traveling to Seabrook Middle School to talk to a small group of students about accepting themselves and how the group learned to be comfortable in high school.
Student Ambassador to the club, Jacob Coyman said, “The club itself was made as a way to help students discover themselves and not feel ashamed to be who they want to be. That being said, categorically it is a club, but the ultimate meaning and goals of it surpass that usual redundancy that most clubs hold. It is a peer to peer discussion oriented club where everyone can share their problems without feeling judged or disgraced.”
D'Amico said that the first time the students from WHS went to go speak to the Seabrook middle schoolers they were there for about 30 minutes and just had a panel where students could ask questions. She also said that the second time the students went to the middle school they were there for an hour and a half. She said the 11 WHS students split into five groups to talk to classes of 11-12 eighth graders. She said that Jacobs came up with an outline of what to cover and an activity to do after they finished their conversations with the middle schoolers.
“We hope our impact is that when these students come into high school they know more of how to act, how to feel comfortable, have less anxieties on entering high school, and accept other people for who they are,” Rummler said.
Rummler said that currently the club is confined to just a small group of students. Jacobs and Rummler wanted to work out the kinks before more people are invited to join. Next year the pair plans on inviting more high school students, mostly upperclassmen.
Coyman said the club is about helping students get out of their shell and begin to experience themselves through their own set of goals.
“So far we have had 2 meetings with the kids, a general overview speech, and then a sort of "heart-to-heart" judgment- free open conversation. We allowed them time to ask questions they were eager to gain an answer for, as well as attempting to connect and relate to them,” Coyman said. “We are here to make them feel more comfortable with themselves and to get them prepared for the social shock that will ensue as they enter their freshman year of high school. Although, the main goal is not a sort of "step-up" prep course for high school, it is meant to be about them, and making them feel more comfortable with themselves.”
Mission kid to kid is connecting to eighth graders on levels that would usually not happen in our school. The club is taking steps to connect with incoming freshmen and help them in ways that have not happened before. This started last year as the brainchild of Baylee Jacobs and is now a club that travels to sending middle schools and connects with the students there.