Buddy training program reaches out to new high school students

Designed to help new students adjust smoothly to the high school environment, the buddy program will be implemented next year under the supervision of guidance counselors Amy Thompson and Mercy Jesudass. Each student entering high school will be paired with a “buddy,” who will be responsible for touring the campus, introducing him or her to peers and teachers, and assisting with any unfamiliar situations.

“The buddy program has already been active in middle school for over four years,” said Grey Macklin, high school counselor. “However, it was not implemented in the high school until recently because of the common mentality that once you are in high school, you are on your own. As much truth as there is to this statement, it is unfair to apply the same standards to new students, especially seeing how much difficulty new students have adjusting to the SIS community.”

In order to select the most qualified helpers, the counselors have asked high school teachers to recommend students with affable personalities and leadership skills. The ten students chosen from each grade were asked to fill out a survey about their interests, such as their hobbies, favorite classes and clubs in which they are involved. The same survey will be sent out to the new students to allow the counselors to arrange the pairs based on common interests.

“We decided to ask the high school teachers to recommend the buddies because the qualities that students exert [in the classroom] say a lot about their personality and friendliness,” Ms. Thompson said. “In order to ensure success in our first year, we will start off by only involving the students who were recommended by teachers, and will expand by possibly accepting volunteers starting from the year after.”

After selection, the buddies will go through six training sessions in which Ms. Thompson and Ms. Jesudass will teach them various social skills, including how to use effective body language, how to listen actively and how to ask open-ended questions as opposed to closed-ended ones to encourage deep conversation. As of April 13, students have undergone three of the six weekly training sessions.

“When I enrolled at SIS in ninth grade, I had some trouble [initially] adjusting to the new environment, especially the school curriculum and Korean culture, which was different from that of Hong Kong, where I lived previously,” said Eddie Choi (10), a buddy currently going through training. “The difficulty I had adjusting to the school motivates me to train diligently and try my best to facilitate the transition of new students next year.”