Let seniors ease the transition

As we reach the much anticipated culmination of this political election, students and teachers should be striving to create a new kind of political environment on campus. Students of minority political groups should not be dismissed or have to battle hostility.

Sophomores need senior mentors to aid in their social and academic transition from the Middle School to the Upper School, a change that is simply too drastic to handle without proper guidance.

Deans and teachers can act as a support system, but only to a certain extent; they cannot provide truly accurate insight into the joys and struggles that come with being a student at the Upper School. Peer Support can be a helpful supplement as well, but a program should be erected specifically geared towards sophomores, with each assigned to a senior mentor.

Our dual campuses are separated by far more than a 20-minute drive. The oasis on North Faring is a place to discover and pursue interests for fun rather than for résumé padding, where grades are a progress report rather than a license for college rejection. The atmosphere is friendlier and gentler, and the greatest social anxiety is where to put your hands when you slow-dance with members of the opposite sex at Bar Mitzvahs.

After three years of being nurtured at the Middle School, the sophomores are thrown into the lion’s den of Coldwater Canyon, an environment where, believe it or not, there is social pressure to engage in risky behavior, added onto the extra two or three hours of homework each night.

Tenth graders need a helping hand from the seniors, who have slogged through 5-test weeks, AP exams and sleepless nights, and have, successfully or otherwise, navigated the social minefield that is high school and the new temptations presented in that environment.

A mentoring program would also foster a greater sense of school unity at a time when the importance of the student body coming together as one has never been more fervently emphasized. Is there any doubt that the strain of a significantly increased workload and the heightened pressures of a high school environment contributed to the events of last year?

What’s done is done, but we need to examine what can be accomplished as a school to prevent such an incident from recurring. A mentoring program is a start.

Last year, the class of 2008 attempted to establish a mentoring program for sophomores to little avail.

Emma Kaplan ’08, who spearheaded the effort, said that the system failed because the mentors were more interested in adding “Peer Mentor” to their college applications than actually mentoring their peers.

This time, the responsibility of the program’s success should fall in the hands of the administration and the Prefect Council. If these two bodies are going to continue to stress the necessity of “community,” something tangible needs to be done, and a mentoring program is a step toward that end.