By Allison Collins
SIDNEY – Seven Sidney eleventh- and twelfth-graders teamed up with rising middle schoolers to offer tips on how to thrive in high school during the district’s inaugural student-led peer mentoring program.
The program began in late July and runs through next week, with spots still available for seventh- and eighth-graders.
Sidney Assistant Superintendent Kerrie Johnston said the themed sessions were conceptualized after parents and caregivers sought off-season programming beyond the district’s summer camps, which cap at sixth grade.
“Some parents requested an opportunity for students going into seventh and eighth grade … because they needed something different developmentally,” she said. “So we’re recognizing and honoring that … and this is our first year doing something different for middle school students.”
Johnston noted that she hopes to expand the program next year and start publicizing it earlier to boost enrollment.
Participating upperclassmen, Johnston said, are all members of Sidney Students Against Destructive Decisions, many of whom have also participated in teen leadership workshops.
The older students’ background and civic-mindedness, she said, made them ideal candidates for a student-led peer mentoring initiative.
“They have those leadership skills and this is an opportunity for them to take those skills even further,” she said. “They created the lesson plans because they know what middle school kids need … and it’s been fantastic.”
Topics have included public speaking, self-esteem, goal setting, social media and peer pressure, the importance of honesty and community outreach, all supported by games, interactive activities and arts and crafts.