Oct. 25, 2018
USCHS mentors host Freshman Field Day
The Upper St. Clair High School mentor program hosted its 10th annual Freshman Field Day event for ninth graders and their junior mentors on Friday, Oct. 12, 2018, at the high school stadium. The event was led by a team of seven seniors, who serve as super mentors – Anne Ferry, Jack Fitzpatrick, Emily Gallagher, Julia Geisler, CJ Hess, Emma LaRocco and Rachel Tudi.
In addition to providing a fun event, the purpose of Freshman Field Day is to build and strengthen relationships among the ninth graders.
“Field day is just meant to have fun and to get closer with students in your homeroom,” Jack Fitzpatrick said. “Not everyone knows each other…homerooms are organized alphabetically, and a lot of kids are new to the district and come from parochial schools. It’s great just to get everyone working together as a team.”
The morning kicked off with a mentor-mentee breakfast in the nutrition center followed by a variety of team building events including tug-of-war, a dizzy bat relay race, railroad relay, ball hop races, blind-folded dodge ball and others. Mentors, assigned to freshman homerooms, served as coaches, cheerleaders and supporters to their mentees during each activity. A team of approximately 20 senior mentors coordinated each of the competitive stations.
In addition to supervising the morning’s events, super mentors were posting photos on Twitter (@USCHSMentoring) for the event’s costume contest. Team themes included Nunez’s Neon, Gray’s Gangsters, Canada, Carlino’s Cash, Mostowy’s Mitochondria, Barnes & Noble, Chase is on the Case, Petrick’s Penguins, Langley’s Lifeguards, Hughes Clues, Vacco’s Velociraptors, Robbins’ Hood, Hritz Crackers, Mii-tees, Syme’s Scots, Zebo’s Zebras, Nicholson’s Nightmare, and Fisher’s Freedom Fighters.
For CJ Hess, a highlight of the event is simply the excitement and enthusiasm of all of the students.
“My favorite part has been going around and cheering and getting everyone excited and watching all the freshmen getting involved and having fun with their homerooms and their mentors,” he said.
Students in grade 11 are eligible to apply to serve as mentors in order to assist freshmen with the transition from middle school to high school. Each freshman homeroom is assigned three to four mentors who provide information, encouragement and support throughout the year. Each year approximately 60 juniors serve as mentors in the program.
For Julia Geisler, the impact of Freshmen Field Day and the mentoring program is far-reaching and impacts students’ overall transition to the high school.
“I want parents to know that Upper St. Clair is such a good and positive environment,” Julia said. “We really work hard to make sure that all the freshmen had a good transition and are connected with at least some of the juniors and seniors so that they have someone to look up to, ask any questions and get help.”
Most students can empathize with being nervous and anxious about the transition to high school. The mentor program helps to ease those feelings.
“This is really all about building relationships – as a community we really want to get everyone together and it’s really exciting to see that,” Rachel Tudi said.
The seven super mentors work collaboratively with their faculty advisors: Maureen Chermak, learning support teacher; Mike Funfar, mathematics teacher; Amanda Haas, mathematics teacher; and Tom Marquis, school counselor.