Teen Teachers lead freshman advisories to help with transition to high school


Starting this year, the freshman class is experiencing the implementation of a new advisory program. It takes place during the first 20 minutes of fourth and fifth period lunches, Mondays through Thursdays, for the first six weeks of school. The goal of the program is to help freshmen adjust to high school culture and norms more quickly than they have in the past.

“This first week we’re doing get-to-know-you stuff,” Teen Teaching sponsor Jordan Johnston said. “But going on they’re going to talk more about school spirit, technology, how to use their iPads and other valuable information they can use to help them get started here as freshmen.”

The concept evolved from complaints and concerns from parents and students about the transition from middle school to high school not being as smooth as it could be. Principal Dr. John Carter said that the allotted time will allow freshmen to learn more about Westlake culture and activities while bonding with classmates.

“One of the pieces of feedback we heard loud and clear was that one of the areas we could improve was creating a welcoming environment for the freshmen,” Dr. Carter said.

After taking the concerns into account, Dr. Carter then went to Teen Teaching sponsors Tres Ellis and Johnston to get upperclassmen mentors involved. Teen Teachers lead the group activities and give students a source of counsel in their first few months of high school.

“I’m hoping they appreciate our efforts to help them and grow to enjoy advisory over the next six weeks,” Teen Teacher junior Alexa Condos said. “I look forward to getting to know them better and letting them know that there are upperclassmen who are on their side.”

Freshman Lauren Germann said she is already beginning to form relationships with her Teen Teaching mentors and seeing the effects of advisory.

“I like advisory because it lets me get to know some of the upperclassmen and it helps me feel more comfortable starting my first year at Westlake,” Lauren said.

While some are taking advantage of the program, others like freshman Michael Abide aren’t warming up to the idea as quickly.

“I don’t really like it because it cuts into our lunch time,” Michael said. “So far it has been pretty awkward, but I wouldn’t mind it as much if it were at a different time.”

Although feedback from some of the freshmen has been varied so far, junior Sarah Shields has hope that they will buy into it as it progresses.

“It’s nice to see these kids becoming friends with people that they didn’t know beforehand,” Sarah said. “Now they are starting to branch out which is great because it’s achieving one of the goals of this program.”