DERRY — Madalyn Henderson wishes she had a program like this when she began high school.
The Pinkerton Academy senior is now part of a new program putting upperclassmen into the freshmen environment to serve as mentors.
"I never had this as a freshman," the Derry student said. "I did not go to school here, I came from California."
Being the new student, she said, often left her at a loss for how to deal and where to go.
The goal of the Academy Mentor Program is to help transition freshmen into the Pinkerton campus.
Upperclassmen have volunteered to be on the mentor team and will be given tasks to do alongside new freshmen once the new school year begins.
Mentors will work with teachers when freshmen have their "seminar" times during the day, helping students better understand how the school works, what activities are available, and how to handle study skills, bullying and overall rules of the school.
The new freshman "Academy" building opened its doors in the fall of 2011, giving freshmen a new space and a structured day filled with core classes and other programs, all aimed at making their transition smoother.
As new students come to high school from smaller surrounding towns, the high school atmosphere can sometimes be daunting.
Training is handled by faculty members, including Roger Konstant and Brewster Bartlett.
Approximately 70 students have signed up to be mentors.
"They had to apply," Bartlett said.
He said the program will make the freshmen transition to high school more personal and positive for the students.
Christian Merheb is a freshman and will serve on the mentor team next fall.
He said a program like this would have helped him when he got to high school.
"I believe it would have been important," he said. "Freshmen would have been more connected."
Mentors will deal with the students' feelings, help them get around, introduce them to clubs and activities, go over rules, and better understand how Pinkerton works.
Rebecca Cunningham has a younger brother who will come to Pinkerton next fall and is already interested in how high school works.
"He's constantly asking me questions about Pinkerton," she said. "Since he's going to be a freshman, (the mentor program) will certainly make him feel a lot more comfortable." • • •
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