NORTH OLMSTED, Ohio — Going from middle school to high school can be scary and nerve-wracking for some students. A new program at North Olmsted High School is helping them navigate that transition with the help of their peers.
It's called the Inspiring Eagles program. It's just like Big Brothers Big Sisters with trainers from that organization teaching juniors and seniors how to mentor their freshmen mentees.
Shahad Al Wuhaili and Gabby Baillu are in the 12th and 11th grades at North Olmsted High School. They both remember what it was like to be a freshman.
“Everyone kind of had their own classes they wanted to take so I didn't really have or get the chance to have my friends in my class,” said Baillu.
They also both wish they had someone to guide them.
“I didn't have an older sibling to guide me and as I'm an immigrant, my parents didn't know much about high school either,” said Al Wuhaili.
That’s why they’re now both mentors in the Inspiring Eagles program.
“So motivation is 100% through peer approval. I think our peers motivating other peers, especially students who have kind of been through the ropes or some of our older upperclassmen able to work with our underclassmen and just kind of help them through things that may be going to adults they just don't feel as comfortable to do,” said Noelle Ostrowski, assistant principal of North Olmsted High School.
The program is set to kick off next week. Mentors and mentees will meet during study hall and lunch periods to talk, guide, and get much-needed advice about navigating high school. The 20 mentors in this pilot session were recommended by teachers while the mentees were chosen by guidance counselors.
“We’re not necessarily looking for students that have a 4.2 GPA, but students that kind of are familiar with this and have been through the ranks of North Olmsted and also we have a very diverse crowd here at the high school. So making sure that we're making everyone feel included,” said Katie Porter, a teacher at Polaris Career Center who is assigned to North Olmsted High School.
Al Wuhaili and Baillu are looking forward to what they can teach their mentees.
“I just want them to get something out of it. It doesn't have to be—I don't want them to straightaway get good grades or be attentive. I just want them to make an effort into coming into school and just trying to have fun and, you know, be the best versions of them,” said Baillu.
They’re also looking forward to what this experience can teach them in turn.
“I think you just learn to be more thoughtful about other people you meet and you realize, oh, they could be going through something. So just honestly, being kind to everyone is something that will probably come out of this,” said Al Wuhaili.
Jade Jarvis is a reporter at News 5 Cleveland. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
Download the News 5 Cleveland app now for more stories from us, plus alerts on major news, the latest weather forecast, traffic information and much more. Download now on your Apple device here, and your Android device here.
You can also catch News 5 Cleveland on Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, YouTube TV, DIRECTV NOW, Hulu Live and more. We're also on Amazon Alexa devices. Learn more about our streaming options here.