Being the new kid in school can be overwhelming, unless you’re a new Roadrunner.
Since Thanksgiving, nearly 30 new students have started school at Rymfire Elementary. Each of those students was welcomed by one of their own from the nine-member THINK problem solving team.
The acronym describes the Community Problem Solver's mission perfectly – To Help Include New Kids.
“This started by us realizing that students weren’t getting welcomed properly,” Madison Murphy said. “We wanted to help them feel more confident in their new surroundings.”
“We also researched this particular issue, and we found that new students tend to drop grades,” Jack Petocz added. “That’s where we got the idea of the mentoring program where we can encourage them and inspire them to get good grades.”
A goody box filled with school necessities, a gift certificate for the school store and one for the snack cart, is given to each child as they begin their tour of the school. The tour encompasses the 254,489-square-foot school that includes eight buildings — a challenge for anyone to navigate.
The connection with the student doesn’t end with the tour.
“We are trying to move into meeting them every two weeks so we can chat, so that we’re not really a stranger to them,” Cameron Driggers said. “Make them feel more like a friend.”
“We know their names and get all of their information and put it down in Google doc, so if we ever see them we know their names, it’s not like “hey you over there,” Ben Kopach added.
Each member of THINK has a specific job within the group, from keeping an up-to-date data base of new students,
“This started by us realizing that students weren’t getting welcomed properly.”
MADISON MURPHY, T.H.I.N.K. member
planning after school parties, emailing parents and making sure goody boxes are filled and ready.
Jake Bumengarten keeps the records and sends out reminders to make sure none of the team forgets a mentoring appointment with a new student. Once a student has been welcomed, their team member sticks with them throughout the year, meeting at least every two weeks.
“We are having our first after school party next week so all of the kids can be at the same party and meet together,” academic coach Tim Ruddy said. “We will do some ‘get to know you’ activities and go outside to play games. It will be more people around that can relate to them, and more people for them to know.”
Feedback has been positive.
“We were welcoming two kids, one in kindergarten and the other in second grade, and their brother, who was hearing impaired, was with them,” Cameron said. “We were able to talk to him because Tori (Victoria Ganung) actually knows a little sign language. The registrar told us the mom was happy with that.”
The team is waiting to see if their project has been accepted for the state competition the end of March.
“Currently we are trying to get this project settled in this school but we also had planned, after we got it all done, to spread it across the other schools,” Cameron said.