Written by Matthew Hamilton
Gunn Student Executive Council (SEC) has revived a buddy program to assist new students in their transition to Gunn. The program assigns new students entering sophomore through senior year with returning Gunn students.
Mentors meet with mentees every week and provide new students with insight into Gunn that they would not have received from teachers or counselors. They can talk about classes, teachers, social happenings and things unique to Gunn, such as where to have lunch and why homecoming is such a big event.
According to junior Grace Park, this connection to another Gunn student can make adjusting to the school a lot easier. “The new students have someone who can show them the best of Gunn,” she said. “When you are new to Gunn, you don’t automatically see the best of Gunn. With a buddy you see all of the amazing things we have here. A buddy is somebody who can take you to the library and show you all the amazing technology we have, to steer you into a club that they know would be good for you.”
Student Activities Director Lisa Hall explains that the goal of the Buddy System is to build communication between new and experienced students. “The goal is to provide a buddy or a mentor who is a current Gunn student and somebody who has been in the district for a long time to support a new transfer student,” she said.
According to Hall, Gunn receives on average 30 to 40 new students in grades 10 through 12 each year. Throughout the month, all of the mentor-mentee pairs are required to meet three times during lunch but Hall also hopes that some pairs choose to meet outside of school. During meetings, mentors check in on their students, answer questions and socialize.
The program was started by current Human Relations Commissioners senior Anastasiya Stasyuk and sophomore Tone Lee as well as Junior Class Vice President Cole McFaul.
McFaul decided to help with the program because of his experiences as a new student. “I came as a transfer student last year,” McFaul said. “Everybody was really nice, but it is hard if you don’t know anyone to make that first step and introduce yourself. We are just trying to integrate them so they can meet more people quicker.”
The buddy system has been helpful for the new students. Junior Ian Li, who transferred to Gunn this fall, has moved a lot, and according to him, adjusting to Gunn has been the easiest transition because of the Buddy System. “It is nice to have a better understanding of the school instead of wandering around aimlessly looking for things,” Li said.
This process has been rewarding for the mentors as well. “It’s been great,” sophomore Luke Cheng said. “I really enjoy it, and I think the new students feel more welcomed.” Cheng even felt like students would benefit from a buddy system between freshmen and upper classmen.
Mentor-mentee meetings will continue ever until the end of this September. After that, the meetings will continue only if the new students still need them.