PRIDE eases freshman transition into Conant through lunch instruction
CHS has replaced the Cougar Advisory Program, or CAP, mentor program with the Personally Responsible Individuals Dedicated to Excel, or PRIDE, program for freshmen this year. Led by upperclass mentors, the program was created to ensure that incoming freshman feel welcomed and integrated into Conant easily, according to PRIDE sponsor John C. Brown.
Brown stated that CAP had been around for a while, and with all the new changes to CHS, it was time to create something new.
Brown explained that PRIDE is similar to CAP “but there are a few differences. Conant is a lot more technology friendly, so we wanted to re-vamp the CAP curriculum to support that; that’s how PRIDE was born.”
CAP students received course credit, but PRIDE is a club that any upperclassmen can join to be a mentor. While CAP was a program that taught freshmen enrolled only in study hall, PRIDE reaches out to all freshmen during the first half of their lunch periods Monday through Thursday to educate them about different aspects of the school such as clubs, classrooms, schedules, how to use the iPad, and the importance of Digital Democracy.
PRIDE mentor Emma Lewis, ‘18, said that it helps freshmen feel more comfortable and make new friends. “I think that PRIDE really helps the freshman be a part of the school, and it introduces them to upperclassmen they normally wouldn’t talk to,” she explained.
PRIDE mentors had to go through expectations and rules training, which helped outline the necessary actions that the mentors need to demonstrate throughout the program. In addition, PRIDE mentors hosted a freshmen picnic before the start of school. They were also present on iPad pickup day, assisting students in finding lockers and classrooms.
CHS Principal Julie Nowak was happy to see the new underclassmen and upperclassmen getting along. “It’s so great to see students helping students. That’s how it should be,” she said.
While the upperclassmen were excited to educate freshmen, some underclassmen had different opinions about the effectiveness of PRIDE.
Krisha Jivani, ‘20, said, “I learned a lot from my mentors, but I think all this information could have been given in a packet on the first day of school.”
While Lewis agreed that a pamphlet could be given, she felt that the instruction provided by PRIDE had more to offer than a few sheets of paper.
“With a packet, you don’t get the friendship of PRIDE, and it’s way easier to ask questions and actually see information instead of a map,” she explained.
Jivani appreciated being taught by students. “I like being taught by the students because I can connect much more easily with them,” she said.
However, Jivani expressed disappointment in having to miss half her lunch four days a week to attend. “The biggest reason I don’t enjoy PRIDE is because it cuts into lunch, and since I already have a late lunch, I have to wait even longer to eat,” she stated.
Brown explained that the reason PRIDE takes place during lunch is because many students were unhappy with their study halls being taken up by CAP in the years before. “We wanted to find a way to reach all freshmen instead of just those that take study hall,” he continued. “And nobody needs 50 minutes to eat, so we decided to have PRIDE during lunch periods, and it’s only half a lunch, so they still have time to eat.”
Lewis doesn’t mind missing half her lunch. “Most of my friends are also mentors, so we have lunch together, and we teach with each other, which is pretty good,” she said.
In addition to informing students about the school, PRIDE will also take the responsibility of making sure freshmen have completed their Digital Democracy courses. Last year, freshmen were required to complete Digital Democracy courses, but educators and students ran into a few obstacles.
“We had some technical difficulties,” Technology Coordinator Paul Kim said. “But with the PRIDE program, we’re hoping that the upperclassmen can help students who don’t understand the courses.”
“The program is off a great start,” Brown said. “We know this is part of Conant’s future, and we’re excited to see where it takes us.”
Art teacher Jamie Peterson co-sponsors PRIDE with Brown. In addition to the sponsors, other contributors to developing the PRIDE program are Activities Director Robert Small, P.E. teacher Jason Sherko, English teacher Zak Zerby, and ESL teacher Brittany O’Brien.