Senior- Freshman Fellows Program Finally Realized
by Emily Jiang on Friday, October 2nd, 2015
Whether freshman year is your first year or your ninth year at Milton, starting high school is daunting; you are now entering a world of more freedom and much more responsibility. Throughout your first year, you’re bombarded with sports, performances, course selections, homework, exams, and more. I think it’s safe to say that those of us who are now on the other side of freshman year have made a few mistakes along the way. However, without this period of trial and error, we would never have gained perspective on all things Class IV. With the advent of the new advisor-fellows program, seasoned upperclassmen can now more effectively impart tips and wisdom to freshmen.
Ms. Engstrom, one of the key faculty involved in developing the program, explains the nuts and bolts of the system. Her hope is that “two seniors per day student advisory will meet with a freshman advisory six to eight times a year, especially when freshmen might need advice or when they might be extra stressed: around finals time, course selection time, the MegaBlunders test, and history paper, to name a few. The advisor fellows have met once with their respective advisories during the opening of school.”
Ms. Engstrom also mentions that “while a couple boarders will try to do something, [the program is] mostly concerned with day students. Unlike in dorms, day students don’t have as much of a connection with older students; boarders already have a support group of upperclassmen. [Day] students don’t have a lot of time and are [geographically] separated, so I can imagine that it would be hard for a freshman to go up to a senior and say ‘lets be friends.’ ”
While Ms. Engstrom and Mr. Tyler, Class I Deans, are helping to make the vision a reality, the endeavor is actually mainly a student-run idea that came out of last year’s Class II Retreat (C2R). One of the driving student forces of the new program, Luis Viceira (I), says, “Several groups of juniors at C2R actually discussed and came up with the idea independently… It was cool that so many people were thinking similarly.”
When asked about his motives for pioneering the program, Luis explains that “when Randy (Jared Turner, ’15) ran for head monitor [in 2014], part of his campaign was creating a Freshman-senior buddy system…unfortunately, when Randy was not elected, lots of people lost interest in the proposed buddy system, which…its creators [had] envisioned [as] a one-to-one ratio of a junior to a freshman, and then the following year a senior to a sophomore. When I ran for head monitor, one of my goals was to bridge the gap between the grades…Instead of a one-to-one ratio, however, the new version would only use seniors who volunteered and assign each of them to an advisory of freshmen.”
He further explains that the goal of the project “was to not only to break down the upperclassmen-underclassmen divide, but also to give incoming freshman an alternative perspective: that of an older, experienced student who can give them advice on both academic and social life.”
Looking to the future Luis says that “this first year is mostly a trial year—I imagine towards the spring that the people participating will convene and reflect on what could be done differently or better. Changing to a junior-freshman and senior-sophomore setup could be a possibility in the future, but that really depends on how people feel at the end of this year.”
To project the effectiveness of the new program, a few students spoke about advice they wish they had received in freshman year. Michelle Erdenesanaa (II) says, “I wish I had known not to hold onto things for the sake of continuity or getting into college. I also don’t think I tried enough clubs and activities.” Regarding schoolwork, Rika Ichinose (I) states, “I wish I had picked up good work habits by completing the little things when I was told to do so… It makes life so much easier.” Ellie Lachenauer (II) also says, “Especially during stressful times, such as exams, I did not realize that meeting with teachers can be essential to understanding large parts of the coursework.”
The idea of an upperclassman-underclassman support system has been proposed time and time again during head monitor election speeches. Now, after a push from dedicated teachers and students, the program has finally been realized. Although the system is still in its early phases, we can’t wait to observe its evolution over time and its impact on new students.
Short URL: http://miltonmeasure.org/?p=7227