Upper School students reached out to their Middle School classmates again this week in the year’s sixth and final session of the Peer to Peer (P2P) Mentor Program. In two different sessions, the students discussed healthy decisions.
Sophomores, juniors and seniors visited Middle School advisories to discuss how to handle unwanted pressure from friends both personally and in social situations. Meeting in advisory, where close relationships have developed over the school year, helped the younger students feel more comfortable discussing sensitive topics with their older mentors.
The groups began discussions on Tuesday and started right in on peer pressure. Students talked about the differences between positive and negative peer pressure, and how pressure can be both spoken and unspoken. Upper School students were candid about situations where they’ve felt peer pressure and shared examples of how they deflected when necessary. The Middle Schoolers were encouraged to be confident in themselves and stick to their values. They learned to set up safeguards with parents or other trusted adults, like a code word or emoji that signals to parents “Come pick me up and don’t ask questions. I don’t want to be here anymore.” They discussed what could happen if students found themselves in legal trouble, how it would affect their families, school and sports. The mentors encouraged them to trust their instincts.
On Thursday, the advisories dove back in, talking about healthy relationships and safe decision making. They discussed consent and the importance of good communication. Mentors encouraged their younger classmates to always reach out to a trusted adult if needed and even offered themselves as resources.
Each session included time for the younger students to pose questions, and the mentors were both generous and candid in their answers.
The mission and vision of the P2P program aims to share knowledge between divisions that will ultimately result in healthier and happier students. The program is designed so that students will be equipped with the skills to make appropriate decisions and reach out for support when needed.
Last year, Anna Speller ’20 approached adults in the community about developing a program to help Middle School students learn from Upper School students. She wanted to tackle topics such as healthy relationships, decision making and being prepared for Upper School. From those initial conversations, the MS/US Peer to Peer Mentor program was born. Anna says she hopes that “students will look up to high schoolers as friends and mentors to confide in.”
Approximately thirty 10th through 12th grade students volunteered their time and were trained as P2P Mentors. For six weeks throughout the school year, mentors spent time in a 7th grade meeting followed by an advisory lesson/discussion two days later.