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Peer Connectors help ease transition from middle school to high school at PCHS

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POTSDAM - Brook Stevenson and Taylor Murray are looking forward to their first day of high school, but they both admitted to being a little bit nervous.

But they said Wednesday’s orientation at Potsdam High School helped to ease their fears.

“I’m really nervous, but I’m excited too,” Taylor said. “I don’t know my way around school that well, so there will be some adjustments.”

Prior to Wednesday’s event, she said her knowledge of the school’s layout was next to nothing.

“It really helped when they took up for the tour,” she said.

Brook said one of the things that has her the most nervous is abundance of new people.

“There’s a lot of different people,” she said, adding that having a connection with an upperclassman will really help.

Outside of their peer connectors, Molly Tishberg and Amanda Dillon, both girls said they don’t really know anyone in the high school.

“I know a few faces, but I don’t really know any of the people,” Taylor said.

Guidance counselor Daniel K. Bobbett introduced the Peer Conductors program at the school, and he said from the appearance of things Wednesday morning the program appears to be a success.

“The theory is it will ease the transition into the high school for ninth graders,” he said, adding the 16 participating seniors were each partnered up with a small group of freshmen or new students.

“They called them last night to invite them to orientation, and now they’re doing some fun activities and team building. Then they’ll give them each a T-shirt, bag and agenda, as well as their schedule and a tour of the building,” Mr. Bobbett said Wednesday morning as the event was in progress.

He also said he’s optimistic that the relationships forged through the orientation process will last through the school year.

“It’s nice to have an upperclassperson know your face and, at the very least, say hello to you in the hall,” he said. “I would like to use the Peer Connectors for peer mediating if needed and to have another resource. You can never have too many people to go to.”

And that’s the reason why several of the students said they became peer connectors.

“My little brother is a freshman, so that’s pretty cool,” Trevor Keleher said.

Kelsey Sixberry also has a sibling in this year’s freshmen class.

“My sister is a freshman, and I wanted to help her out,” she said. “This seemed like a good opportunity.”

While Jake Bellucci doesn’t have a brother or sister who is a freshmen, he was also one of the volunteers.

“I wish that I had the opportunity when I was a freshman to have a senior there to help me out,” he said.

The day also included some advice from guidance counselor Kim Miller. She who spoke to the students about time management, noting they spend seven hours each day in school and will ideally sleep for 10 hours, leaving only seven hours for everything else.

“If you play sports, you can cut three hours off of that,” she said adding that would leave only four hours, if you count taking a shower and eating dinner when you get home from sports that leaves three hours and if you have a favorite TV show you watch, there goes another hour, leaving only two hours each day for other things like studying, social media and homework.

Principal Joann Chambers also encouraged students to review their schedules and resolve any potential issues before the school year starts.

“The first few days of school are really busy,” she said. “If you have any questions today is your day. It’s much easier to get them answered today than waiting until the first day of school.”

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