The Importance of Roman-2-Roman Now More Than Ever

To adapt to the new conditions of a remote academic semester, the leaders of Roman2Roman, Latin’s mentorship program that matches freshmen with upperclassman buddies, have reimagined the program to work virtually. Because there was not an in-person orientation for the incoming freshmen, ninth graders have more questions about the high school than ever before. Taking all of this into account, the Roman-2-Roman (R2R) Steering Committee has created a comprehensive new plan for upperclassmen mentors to aid their freshmen mentees under these unusual circumstances.
Junior Lily Harris, a Roman-2-Roman head, shared how this year’s program differs from those of the past: “With Latin being mostly remote this year, the R2R process definitely looked quite different. Typically, we take two days to pair all 130 incoming freshmen, but this year we took four days,” she said. The pairing process, a daunting task under normal conditions, was even more difficult over Zoom. “We had to incorporate different materials into the pairing process, and we prepared multiple slideshows and Google spreadsheets in order to guarantee seamless communication,” Lily said. Not only was pairing freshmen with upperclassmen especially hard, but planning times for the partners to connect posed another challenge for R2R. “The committee has been discussing for quite a while now how to best incorporate the program into this year’s virtual learning,” she added. “Ultimately Peter Jones, the other head, and I decided that the best way to introduce everyone would be over Zoom.”
Despite their worries, the first meeting held online proved that virtual R2R is possible and will be a recurring event throughout the first semester. Lily also emphasized how difficult this time is for the freshmen: “Since many students have missed their shadow days and in-person orientation, it is vital that we introduce the ninth graders to the Latin we all have grown to love.”
Another member of the Steering Committee, junior Marissa Isaacs, described how R2R will look in the coming months. “Over Zoom,” she said, “we will host fun games to break the ice between the mentee and mentor in hopes of helping them form strong connections with one another.” Marissa stressed how important it is for mentors to connect with their freshmen buddies during these meetings. “I imagine that freshmen will have a lot of questions as they navigate the beginning of high school online,” she added. “A big responsibility mentors have this year is making an effort to welcome their mentee into the Latin community so they can feel comfortable at this time.”
So what has the transition to high school been like for the freshmen, and how do they feel about R2R? Ninth grader Annie Hallinan weighed in: “It has been hard to meet new people since we’re not in person.” Annie said that although she is a lifer, meaning she has attended Latin since junior kindergarten, it is tough to imagine a freshman year in which one doesn’t physically get to attend the Upper School. She added, “I think as the school year continues, the R2R program will be useful to help adjust to in-person school, as well.”
It is clear that, at this time, R2R has a significant role to play in the community. “It is extremely important that ninth graders have their mentor as a resource to help them in any way possible,” Marissa said. In such a period of uncertainty, it is necessary that freshmen are supported by upperclassmen as they become accustomed to the Upper School. Lily added, “R2R has never been more vital to our community than now. Incoming freshmen are experiencing an extremely different welcome to Latin, and it is our job as returning students to help guide them through this difficult journey.”