Keeping Traditions Alive: Freshmen Mentor Program

The Waltham High Freshman Mentor Program

D'Andra Mckoy, Creative Writer

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The Waltham High Freshman Mentor Program held a meeting on Wednesday, October 2nd to discuss the upcoming Fall Fest, which is set to happen on October 26th. The event will happen outdoors if the weather conditions are nice. The group of Student and Teacher Advisers, were extremely lively and energetic discussing plans to sell tickets, collaborations with other groups such as Print Shop and Spanish Club. The plans and ideas are not fully fleshed out as of yet but, there is a great sense of determination in making these ideas a reality. 

The Freshman Mentor Program “is a club that allows awesome juniors and seniors to help mentor the freshman students get accustomed to Waltham High School and help make the Waltham community stronger by putting on fun events…as well as help freshmen succeed in their high school careers,” said Nicole Kleinman, math teacher and teacher adviser for the program. Science teacher Matthew Burns went on to say that the program was started some ten years ago, as the “grade nine transitioning program.” 

The former program held an orientation, which is still held to this day and is one of the oldest events that the program hosts. During the history of the program, many teachers lead the program. The program was started by Ms. Renna in 2004. Guidance Counselor Ms. Fornier and former teacher Mr. Stanton were the teacher advisers of the program before Mr. Burns and Ms. Kleinmann took over. A few other notable teachers Mr. Burns mentioned were Ms. Waldron-Parr and Ms. Perna. 

Mr. Burns noted that the recent reincarnation of the program has added annual events such as Fall Fest, Book Swap, and even fun one-time events, such as tubing and skiing. He stated that the program is aiming to create social events where ninth-graders can get in touch with their mentors throughout the school year. These events take a long time to be approved and planned. An event like Step-Up Day was said to take up to a month to plan and Fall Fest took about six months to be approved. An event such as that requires several interactions between not only many high school teachers and administrators, but also middle school teachers and administration, as well as coordinating the buses.Because this program has been running for so long, they “are not reinventing the wheel each year,” Mr. Burns said. 

Events such as Fall Fest are open to the public and advertised everywhere from the high school to the elementary schools. Due to this community-wide outreach, around a hundred people are anticipated to attend these events. Though for events such as 

Year-round events such as tutoring are happening Monday through Thursday after school all year in the library. Though these events are popular, it is challenging to effectively communicate the details of these events to the whole of the school district and city. 

Student Advisers leading the planning were Melissa, Massimo, Alexis, and Joe. Isabella, a 12th grader who is also an SA , but was not present at the meeting. All were 12th graders with Massimo being the only 11th grader. They all agreed that the best part of the program is the relationships that are built amongst the underclassman, the joy of giving back, as well as the impact they have on the community. 

Though the window to join this amazing program has ended, applications for the Freshman Mentor Program are accepted in the spring. The program has a website created by Ms. Kleinnman’s Computer Science student, Elizabeth Shepard. This website is where you can keep up to date with all of the future events to come.  Here is the link: http://freshmenmentor.walthamwhsprojects.org/

“The best part of high school are the events that take place outside of schools such as dances, plays, community service, and SATs,” said Mr. Burns. This notion seems to be true and agreed upon by the members of the program and the amount of effort that they put forth into events. The members work actively to make these events special and memorable for the students.