Roman-2-Roman Revisited

By Ella Katz Roman-to-Roman, Latin’s mentoring program, kicked off its second year with a strong start.  Notwithstanding its original and extremely creative name, the program is a great one and ensures that every single Latin freshman has a mentor. What benefit does having a mentor offer the sea of Latin freshman wandering the halls with a look of acute aimlessness?  Given the great number of worries every freshman has (will my locker open? Will I be sent home for violating the somewhat ambiguous dress code? Will that cute senior actually acknowledge that I exist?) Having the mentor program helps ease the transition to high school by giving each freshman an opportunity to ask questions and get advice from more “experienced” Latin high schoolers. This past week, I met with three students on the steering committee for the mentoring program: sophomores David Malkin, Lauren Salzman, and junior Jake Milner who work closely with Mr. Cronister, the head of the program.  When asked why he is involved in the program, Jake responded, “As far as why I’m involved in the program, I think it’s a perfect opportunity to connect people across grades and give both underclassmen and upperclassmen friends that they might not have otherwise had. Latin is the fifth school I’ve attended in my life, so I know what it’s like to be a new kid. Having people to talk to when I had questions or concerns was really valuable for me when I started at a new school, and I hope that both new freshmen and those who came through Latin’s middle school feel the same way. I’ve additionally enjoyed organizing the program and seeing those moments when the relationships pay off.” As Jake points out, joining a new school where some people have known each other since JK can be difficult and having a mentoring program can offer a way to connect to the Latin community.  For a shy student at a new school, the halls can seem daunting and having one friend that knows Latin can make the transition to high school more closely resemble a feel good Disney movie rather than “Mean Girls” —although who doesn’t love when Regina gets hit by the bus? Sadly, some mentors and mentees do not connect as well and as often as others, which defeats the purpose of R2R.  To get more insight on this, I asked another member of the steering committee, Lauren Salzman, why she thought this was the case.  Lauren responded,  “I would say that although some people look down on it or get annoyed, it truly is a great program. By helping a handful of freshman we have done our one and only job. An area to improve is how to hold both mentors and mentees accountable for checking in, asking questions, etc. The program won’t work unless both sides are active. It’s a two way street.” As Lauren suggests, active participation by both mentors and mentees in the R2R program is crucial to its success. “You get what you give” is a mantra that I like, and mentors/mentees who invest their time and energy in building relationships through the R2R program are far more likely to derive meaningful connections and benefits from the program.  When asked to summarize his involvement in the program and why he thinks it is a valuable tool for the Latin community, David Malkin responded, “I am involved in R2R because I know how valuable it is to be mentored into high school. Being an only child, and coming from a different school, I never really had a student mentor. When I came to Latin and played a fall sport, I got to know older kids who helped me transition into high school. I see having someone like that for every freshman as a crucial part of the first year of high school. I am involved in the program because I want to see this program grow to its full potential. I had a lot of ideas for how to go about building the program. Our activities such as the dodge ball games and check ins (especially with food) have been well accepted and a fun way to connect with the pairs. Overall, I think R2R has been incredibly successful and can only get better from here on out. We look forward to continue building connections between freshman and their mentors and continuing to plan more fun activities. “ To build a strong and connected community is the goal of Roman to Roman, and it is critical to do a good job of integrating new members of that community. Most of us have had the experience of being the “newbie” who doesn’t know anyone and feels a bit lost in a new environment. Having one person to help make you feel welcome and part of a larger community can have a large impact on the transition process. Whether it is because of one more smile you can put on a freshman’s face, or how good it feels when you find a common interest or can bond over delicious doughnuts, R2R is a great program that offers much to those who are part of it. After all, you get what you give.]]>