Nothing reduces the anxiety of being new in a community than to have someone who will show the way. That’s the on-going goal of a group of Steilacoom High School students who are members of the school’s Student 2 Student (S2S) program. In its fourth full year at SHS, the S2S team is sponsored by the Military Child Education Coalition (MCEC). MCEC’s primary purpose is to support military families and military children.
Established in the spring of 2006, the S2S team reaches out to all students who are new to our community and SHS. The team focuses on showing new students around the school and developing connections with the them to help ease their transition into a new environment. For example, in August, before the school year began, the S2S team hosted a New Student Orientation at SHS and Sunnyside Beach. About 25 new students enjoyed ice-breaker games, school tours and a picnic lunch at Sunnyside.
The team also greeted new students on the first day of school and gave tours to those who were unable to attend the Orientation. Overall, this helped many new students get a solid start on the new year.
During the school year, S2S team members regularly sit with new students at lunch and host monthly “Rewinds” for new students. The purpose of the Rewind is to share information about school and to develop connections between the students. S2S believes in 100 percent Acceptance.
MCEC has trained 185 schools in the S2S program, most of which are located near military bases and include some DOD schools overseas. According to School Liaison Officer, Jason Johnson, Steilacoom has the only active S2S program in the south Puget Sound region, and its program is considered one of the top programs world-wide.
Since their formation four years ago, representatives from Steilacoom’s S2S program have been invited to attend and present at MCEC’s annual conference three times. Only the top four schools are invited to present their programs. This past July, the Steilacoom team gave a presentation about “Sustaining a Top Notch S2S Program” to military leaders and families in Philadelphia. The team also has presented its program in Houston, Kansas City, and Albuquerque (regional conference). S2S advisor, Craig Miller, is very proud of his team’s accomplishments and the service it provides to new students at SHS.
School Liaison Officers, Jason Johnson and James Henselman coordinate activities between local schools and Ft. Lewis. They are strong advocates for the Student 2 Student program and have attended many of the new student activities and team meetings. Both were in Philadelphia to support the Steilacoom team in July. They also plan activities for the team and new students, such as visiting Ft. Lewis to use post facilities and assisting in team training.
Student 2 Student has helped more than 500 new students transition at SHS. As a result of their success, MCEC has trained a group of students at Pioneer Middle School in the program. Pioneer MS will operate a Junior Student 2 Student program this year, under the direction of advisor Charm Harris. S2S team member Kirsten Smock says, “S2S is a lot of fun, I get a lot out of being able to help new students here at SHS, and I get to make new friends each year, too!”
For more information about the Steilacoom Student 2 Student program, contact Mr. Miller at: 983-2350 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.