Sept. 27, 2022
Mentors host Freshmen Field Day
The Upper St. Clair High School mentor program hosted its 14th annual Freshmen Field Day event on Thursday, Sept. 22, 2022, at the high school stadium. The event was led by a team of four seniors – Anna McElligott, Lauren Starr, Yoshna Venkataraman and Dakota Worstell – who serve as the Senior Leadership Team.
In addition to providing a fun event, the purpose of Freshmen Field Day is to build and strengthen relationships among the ninth graders. Mentors, assigned to freshmen homerooms, served as coaches and cheerleaders to their mentees during each activity.
“The purpose of Freshmen Field Day is to help build relationships and connections with their homeroom through team-building activities,” Anna said. “Not only do we want the freshmen to bond with their mentors, but we also want them to bond with each other as the class of 2026. Freshmen Field Day consists of games that will encourage teamwork, communication, and many other crucial skills.”
The morning kicked-off with a mentor-mentee breakfast in the nutrition center followed by a variety of competitive, team-building events including tug-of-war, dizzy bat relay race, railroad relay, pipeline races, blind-folded dodgeball and others. A team of approximately 25 senior mentors coordinated the activity stations.
The annual event is an opportunity to build friendships between and among freshmen and their Junior Mentors.
“When joining the high school, freshmen are overwhelmed with a lot of new people, some even from their own class. Freshmen Field Day gives the freshmen an opportunity to get to know people in their homeroom and their class in more manageable groups,” Dakota said. “Having a couple of years of experience in high school, the Junior Mentors are there to help the freshmen feel more comfortable and to bring them closer together.”
This year’s team themes included Mr. C’s Cowboys, Cramer’s Cobras, Guarnaccio’s Glow Sticks, a beach theme, Junko’s Blancos, Senora’s Super Stars, Langley’s Lifeguards, Lee’s Referees, the McNights, Newman’s Ninjas, the RAD-Cliffes, Shefler’s Sheriffs, Strayer’s Players, Thompson Touchdowns, Valentine’s Valentines, Vizzini’s VIPs, and the Forget-Me-Wats. Winners of best costume were Shefler’s Sheriffs, winners of best spirit were Junko’s Blancos, and the overall winners were Valentine’s Valentines.
The event concluded with lunch in the stadium. The ninth graders were then able to spend time at the school’s annual Rush event. Rush, an activities fair hosted by Student Council, provides the 60+ clubs with the opportunity to highlight their activities and recruit new members.
Freshmen Field Day and Rush are both intended to help students with the transition to high school. As seniors looking back on their total high school experience, Senior Leadership Team members were asked what advice they would have given themselves.
“I would tell myself to still try your best, but to stress less because whatever test or situation is causing worry will be a forgotten memory in the near future,” Lauren said. “Do not be afraid to talk to your teachers since they have years of experience and want you to succeed. At the end of the day, go to the sporting events or dances because time really does fly in high school.”
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 freshmen 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.
“Freshman Field Day is very impactful for our Junior Mentors as it is their first important activity that requires them to lead and guide their entire homeroom,” Yoshna said. “The connection that is formed with their homeroom only strengthens.”
The USCHS mentoring program has a positive effect on the culture within Upper St. Clair High School.
“The mentors are trusted to be some of the best leaders in the school so strengthening their abilities positively impacts school culture by entrusting them with freshmen,” Yoshna said. “The entire purpose of Junior Mentors is to build relationships, promote student success, and foster genuine concern – with all of these being checked off at field day.”
The four members of the Senior Leadership Team work collaboratively with their faculty advisors: Maureen Chermak, learning support teacher; Mike Funfar, mathematics teacher; Amanda Haas, mathematics teacher; and Tom Marquis, school counselor.