By Nicole Yip
Going to a new school is terrifying—especially when you don’t know anyone. The butterflies in your stomach are ready to burst out, you’re too scared to talk to anyone, and you don’t know where any of your classes are. It is likely you feel overwhelmed by the amount of information you need to process: grading policies, rules, locker combinations. This is why our school’s student government started the Student Ambassador program. Student volunteers are paired with new students to teach them the inner workings of our school. The tour of South is the first impression these new students will have. The philosophy behind the program is that new students are more comfortable asking other students questions about the school than they would be asking an adult. This initiative also allows new students to quickly make a friend.
The idea for Student Ambassadors originated a few years ago in a student government meeting. Representatives seeking to improve the school’s quality of life asked what was being done for new students. During health class, Mrs. Jane Callaghan, one of the Student Government advisors, enlists volunteers for Health Peer Educators, a program that recruits students who educate others on health-related issues. When a new student arrives at the school, the Health Peer Educators and guidance department arrange a tour with a student ambassador.
“Our ambassadors are people who really feel proud of our school and want to showcase what South has to offer,” Mrs. Callaghan said.
Student Ambassadors try to make the transition to South as smooth as possible for new students. Ambassadors not only help students find their classes but also share information about potential clubs and activities. Senior Capri Cibelli, who has been a Student Ambassador since last year, said, “I always tell them: I know it’s the first day and it’s going to be rough, but if you see me in the hallway and you need help, I’ll always be there for you.” Naturally, Cibelli keeps her promise. “I toured a boy last week, and I still see him in the hallway and ask him about how things are going. When we met, he was so nervous because he came here from China and didn’t know how anything would be. Now he is completely fine and loves Ceramics.” Sometimes, if the new student does not speak English, they find a student who speaks the same language through the Study Skills Department.
Being a Student Ambassador can be rewarding in many ways. Mrs. Callaghan said, “I find that it not only helps the new students but the people who do it, they love doing it. I think it gives the Ambassador the opportunity to think about what is so good about this school.”
Cibelli said, “I like talking and helping people. It makes me happy knowing I’m helping someone else out, and they get a better experience. When I started school, I had nothing to work off of—I didn’t have an older sibling help me.” This program has helped many new students transition into South over the past few years, and it is a way for students to share their experience at South with others. If you would like to help out new students, make new friends, and show what South has to offer, volunteer to become a Student Ambassador.