We purposely and strategically utilize our strong students for their training and the benefit of freshmen from the moment they step into the building until they graduate.
On the first day of Summer Connections (our 10-day summer program), we treat freshmen as leaders. The expectation is that freshmen who attend Connections will lead their friends through the first days of high school.
In the room during the above announcement are 12 to 16 upperclassmen who are about to enter the most intense leadership experience of their life as a mentor for Summer Connections. They will lead teams of freshmen through 10 days of decision-making that will leave them exhausted at the end of each day and different by the end of the experience.
During the Study Hall Opposite Lunch
In most of our study halls opposite lunch are strong sophomores who tutor freshmen. They work for The Freshman Academy. These sophomores were identified as freshmen. We pay them with Open Lunch every Friday, something no other sophomore in the District can access. They do great work!
We recruit a senior who supervises these sophomore tutors by meeting every two weeks with the teacher and each tutor to evaluate their work. These quick, structured hallway conversations are magical.
Welcoming the Next Group of Freshmen
In the spring our freshmen welcome the eighth graders to our building, shocking these middle schoolers as they sit across a table with a thriving high schooler who is only one year older than them.
Over 200 students apply every year to be members of our Link Crew team that lead Freshman Orientation. (http://www.boomerangproject.com/link/what-link-crew)
In the Classroom
Over 100 upperclassmen participate in our daily, one-hour, credit-bearing class as peer tutors in our high school, middle schools, or elementary schools. A good number of these students are used in our freshman classes.
The cost for all of this is relatively small compared to the impact on our culture and the learning that they motivate. Students like these are in every school and are waiting to be deployed.