Meaningful Mentorships

By Alice Bolandhemat   Seniors know how Romannet works. Juniors know how to sign up for clubs and how the schedule rotates every eight days. Sophomores know how to schedule meetings with teachers before a test. But to a freshman, these routine parts of life at Latin are a whole new world, confusing and often unexplained. Latin’s mentoring program, Roman to Roman, is a way to address this problem, a way for freshman to acclimate to high school with the help of older Latin students who have gone through the same thing only a couple of years prior. Whether you’re new to Latin or this marks your 14th year, it is always helpful to have someone older than you whom you can ask for advice. From a new freshman’s perspective, walking into unfamiliar halls full of kids who have been attending Latin for a decade and upperclassman who now know Latin like the back of their hand can be pretty frightening. Of course, once you get past the sometimes-daunting surface that is high school, you are instantly able to see that Latin students and faculty are nothing but warm and welcoming. Having a mentor allows you to develop a connection with someone who has navigated their way through this journey before and can show you the ropes. The first Roman to Roman event took place after the first day of school. It was then that every freshman was given their respective mentor. Many freshmen had never met their mentor, but that didn’t stop them from instantly clicking with one another. Sure, you may not see your mentor every day, but a simple hello in the hallway is enough to put a smile on someone’s face.   I only know what it feels like to be the mentee, so I was very curious to see what it was like to be on the other side of the relationship. I interviewed Lauren Salzman, a junior who is a part of the Roman to Roman Steering Committee and has been both a mentee and mentor. Two years ago, when she was a freshman, she had “an upperclassman as a mentor to help build [her] confidence at Latin.” She hopes to accomplish the same thing with her mentee this year. Her favorite part about being a mentor is “seeing [her] mentee in the hallway or at school events.” At Latin and at most high schools, there is often a lot of gossip and drama to get wrapped up in. There is also the always-evident pressure of grades. Having a way to take your mind off of everything is very important. For Lauren, “Being able to step away from the stress and gossip of [her] grade” to talk to her mentee is her way of doing so.   Roman to Roman allows you to establish a relationship with your mentee, but does not necessarily provide a lot of time to see them. When asked what she would like to change about Roman to Roman, Lauren said “the amount of time we have for the mentors and mentees. Everyone at Latin is so busy so there isn’t always enough time to reach out to your mentor/mentee during the week.” Being a mentor and a mentee are two very different roles, but in the end, “mentors can learn just as much from their mentees” as mentees can learn from their mentors, regardless of who has been at Latin for longer. While Roman to Roman strives to create meaningful individual relationships between freshman and older students, it goes above and beyond its mission. By fostering communication between different classes, the program bridges the gap between freshman and their older peers and deepens the overall sense of community at Latin.]]>