Freshman Mentorship Program Connects Students

By Rebecca Stamp, Sports Editor

Every September, the halls flood with a new set of confused faces: the school year’s freshman class. But the class of 2022 may have a reason to look a little less lost with CoreTraining’s freshman mentorship program.  “There are five basic needs that we all have,” says Deb Hult, leadership trainer and owner of CoreTrainings, “And a program like this taps into all of [them.]” Her student-to-student mentoring program has been implemented for the 2018-19 school year, but has been met with mixed reactions from students.

“We were hoping to provide each of our… freshman with a connection.“ Says administrator Colleen Lally, overseer of the program. “Somebody that they felt comfortable going to.” Executive mentor Conley Ku (12) elaborated. “My freshman have someone they can talk to when they need advice from someone who has already been in their shoes.”

Many freshman enjoyed the program, believing it better acclimated them to the high school environment. “For me, the mentorship program was really great. It helped me figure all my classes out and how to navigate what I should expect from more challenging teachers.” Said Catherine Kane (9), who formed a strong connection with her mentor, Vanessa Ma. According to Ms. Lally, feedback from a survey found “Mentees who were very resistant… said that they felt like they had someone to go to. With the mentors… they felt a little bit better talking to people.”

The program, however, was not without its bumps. Communication was often difficult due to language barriers, and many mentors had difficulty forming a connection with their mentees. Freshman felt that upperclassmen couldn’t tell them anything they didn’t already know, especially because the first meeting didn’t occur until September 26th.  “I would have liked to start earlier in the school year,” allowed Conley Ku, “because I think the first few days are the strangest and having a mentor would probably have been nice during that time.”

Plans are in place for next year to overcome some of these challenges, such as beginning training the previous school year. This way, connect groups, the meetings between freshman and mentors, can start as early as Freshman Orientation.

“I think our big thing at this point is, truly, just helping get the word out about the program.” Says Ms. Lally. “The opportunity for students to turn around and help each other just makes this place even better.” Falls Church, as many people like to say, is a family. Students and faculty alike pride themselves on the community, and Ms. Lally’s belief that this program is the best way to improve it shines through as she answers why people should become the 2019-2020 mentors.

“With a mentor program, yes, it can look exceptional on a college resume,” says Ms. Lally, “but when you really think about, you truly hope that nobody is doing it just for that.” She takes a pause before answering what the program is looking for in a mentor. “Students who understand that this school gets better when we treat each other better... when we see each other as a family and help this family develop.“