Let’s get connected

Camri Anderson, Staff Writer

Last year, the Role Models Encouraging Freshman (REF) program teamed up with Midwest Youth Services to create a project to get students from Jacksonville High School and Jacksonville Middle School more involved in their school and community. The REF program allows students who are role models to be guides for the incoming 9th graders. Midwest Youth Services is an organization that creates a helpful and safe environment for kids, teens and families. When Midwest Youth Services asked to team up with the REF program, it was a match made in heaven!

Midwest Youth Services asked the program coordinators what needed to be changed or improved in the school. All the REF coordinators agreed that we needed to connect with the students in some way to get everyone more involved in the school and in the community. All the coordinators decided on a decal that can be hung on the doors of the staff members at both schools. The decal states, “Let’s Get Connected.” The reason behind the message is simply to get more connected! Casey Zang, the leader of the REF program says, “The more involved in high school you are, the more fun it can be. Students often want to get involved but don’t know who to talk to about the opportunities available. We thought that by creating this decal students would at least have someone who could point them in the right direction.”

Teachers at JHS have already started promoting the decal, and it has turned into a very positive addition to the school. Heather Crivilare, an English teacher and scholastic bowl coach at Jacksonville High School states, “ I think the decal is an important initiative, and I’m happy to see the REF program lead it. Sometimes students have a hard time reaching out for help, and some students may not even realize that school feels so boring or dreadful because they aren’t a part of their school community. The decal and the conversations it provokes are a great start to reaching out to students who feel this way.”

Lynette Guthrie, the German teacher here at JHS and the sponsor of the GAPP program as well as the German Club director, had a very personal response to the decal. She says, “ When I was in high school, I was involved in several activities; but I would not have been if I didn’t have teachers who were willing to steer me in the right direction. These activities are how I met some of my closest friends in high school.”

Teachers like Audrey O’Dell, a social science teacher at JHS and Key Club sponsor, goes the extra mile in helping her students find the right club or activity for them. She explained, “When it comes to clubs, I would ask around about who is the club sponsor or advisor, and point the students in the right way. Or if a student is nervous about joining that club or activity, I would go with them. That extra step, I think, is the most memorable thing I could do for a student outside of the classroom. Really, I’ll do just about whatever it takes to ensure a student who wants to get involved can.”

This project is already starting to impact the teachers and students. In the near future, there will be a list of all the sports and clubs plus the sponsors affiliated with the extracurricular activity.