by Shauna Hunt
Bottom Row: Patrick Swiggs, Shauna Hunt (Mentor), Liz Cole, Chason As a freshman, my initial response to the Freshman Mentor Program (FMP) was, “Are you kidding me?” My first day of FMP consisted of me not knowing where my FMP class was, who my mentor was and my mentor being late. (Yes, I was once a lost freshman. I know what it’s like).
The Freshman Mentor Program was a toddler then, only entering its second year as an official program at San Clemente High School. Now, two years later, FMP has grown up and become a large factor in the success of SCHS and its students.
All students currently present at SCHS went through FMP as a freshman, the seniors being the first batch to pass through and graduate from the program. Since its first year, it has grown into an well-organized, thought out course that exceeds the expectations of its founding fathers.
Brought to SCHS’s freshman class of 2003-2004 and headed by then - Vice Principal, George Knights, the program was adopted from a school in Chicago, Michigan and adapted to specifically fit San Clemente students. Its goal was and is to reduce the failing rate of the freshman class and create ties between freshman and upperclassmen.
FMP’s success depends upon Junior and Senior volunteers who are willing to give up the last half of their lunch three to four days a week to become mentors. In return for this mentoring those participating receive a school parking pass.
Near the end of the school year, an application is distributed to all interested sophomores and juniors, filled out and returned to the faculty in charge of FMP. This year’s faculty in charge are Steve McLaughlin- Upper Campus vice Principal, Caroline Dutton - English teacher and Kelley Holt- Physical Education teacher. Then, a two day “mentor camp” is held for incoming mentors. This camp helps develop leadership skills and brainstorms ideas for getting freshman involved and keeping them from failing. Along with speakers and workshops, the camp focuses on providing each mentor with the tools necessary to make their protégés feel welcomed to high school. Strict instructions are given about being constantly interested in the kids, to help reduce lack of involvement and keep a connection between the mentor and freshman. When mentors are negligent and uncaring, there can be negative effects, creating feelings of wasted time.
Because the program was very new when I went through, I experienced some of those negative effects, but the overall experience turned out positive. I made friendships with the people in my FMP group that last even today (I am actually a mentor in the same class with one of the friends I made within my group as a freshman) and was also able to get help with and finish my homework assignments. Enabling me not to feel too overwhelmed with the shift from middle school to high school.
One of the main goals of FMP this year will be to help mentors and freshman really make connections and develop friendships. As a freshman I really needed someone older to answer my questions and help me adjust to high school. Now FMP gives me the opportunity to be that “older someone” to a freshman who is probably as lost as I was.
All the mentors participating in this year’s program have been through FMP and freshman year. I am confident they will be able to relate to the incoming freshmen’s feelings and will become that older, familiar face that helps students make the transition from upper campus to lower campus, from freshman to sophomores, and hopefully from sophomores to future mentors. b