By Nicole Matheson
Starting a new school year can be a daunting challenge for anyone, but especially for a student who doesn’t feel as if they fit in.
Thankfully at Thunderbolt Middle School there is the Student Ambassador Program in place to make things easier for those who may be feeling overwhelmed.
Making a Difference
From the inspirational signs in the parking lot to the morning student greeters offering a warm welcome to all who enter, Thunderbolt has a unique atmosphere that its staff and students can be proud of.
“I just love helping out,” says Mandee B., a 12-year-old seventh-grader involved in the Student Ambassador Program. “I love being that kind of person who can really be remembered in someone’s life. I love impacting them and seeing the smile on their face, it really makes your day.”
Special training was given to these students to prepare them for interactions with those who are new to the school or struggling to fit in. “Sometimes kids are just sitting alone,” notes student counselor Michele Clark.
“Now we have students we can go to and ask that they go and maybe make this person feel more comfortable.”
Some of the students’ training involved role playing and tips for making conversations with new people less awkward, skills that will help them not only now but throughout their adult lives.
Coming Into Their Own
The transition from elementary school to middle school isn’t always an easy one, as many incoming students fret over change. But these positive-thinking student ambassadors regarded it as a “fresh start.”
Keeley L., 12, recalls, “I thought I was going to be so nervous. What about all those kids I knew from last year? Are we going to be friends still? But then once I got here, I still had my old friends, but I also met a bunch of other people.”
In a particularly tender moment, Lauren I., 13, revealed that in elementary school, she used to be quite shy. “I always would be alone,” she said, but the Student Ambassador Program brought her out of her shell.
“If I could go back to myself in the past, I would say, ‘Hey, I’m right by you and when you go to middle school you will be this amazing and talented person and you’re going to help other people.’”
The impact of The Student Ambassador Program is not only felt at a student body level but is also recognized from the top down.
Elizabeth Tarr, student counselor shares, “We are so proud of our kids,” for this first year of the Student Ambassadors Program has begun with great success.
“For me, I feel like welcoming and meeting new people is a great work of collaboration,” Lauren I. said as the young ladies talked about how being kind is a, “Win, win,” in Mandee B.’s words.
The person who gives also receives a greater portion of kindness in return is the moral of the story. And these students take to heart their roles as young leaders and true ambassadors for Thunderbolt Middle School.