Middle school, college students reap benefits from mentorship program

Hunter Herbaugh
Sunday, October 23, 2022
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Washington Middle School student Braylin Dschaak (left) has lunch with her mentor Jenna Kallevig (right), a student at Dawson Community College and DCC volleyball player. The WMS/DCC mentorship program is in its second year, bringing middle school and college students together to promote personal growth in both. Hunter Herbaugh photo

A mentorship program between Washington Middle School and Dawson Community College has returned this year, continuing a practice that has already seen impacts in both institutions. The program, which started last year, brings DCC students into the middle school to spend time with the younger students, giving them someone to lean on when life’s got them down or they need someone to hang out with.

The program started as an idea from WMS Principal Katy Kennedy, who explained that the goal is really multifaceted. Not only does it give the middle school students role models, but it also puts the DCC students in positions of leadership, possibly for the first time for some of them. It also exposes the middle school students to people from a variety of backgrounds, as DCC students come from all over to study at the college.

“It’s multi-faceted. Of course we want our kids to be exposed to people from different places and who have different backgrounds. Yes, some of the kids from DCC are from (Glendive), but they still have different backgrounds from our kids. So it’s just experiencing people who are similar and different,” Kennedy said.

Having someone to look up to, however, is one of the primary goals of the program. Specifically, giving the kids someone to look up to who is not entirely an adult, someone who is still a student, like themselves.

Based on feedback she has received from her students, Kennedy said this has been one of the most successful aspects of the program.

“When I was talking to some of my kids who had mentors last year, they said it’s just really nice to have someone there just to listen to you,” she said. “Grown ups aren’t terrible, but it’s better to have someone that’s not a kid but not a grown up.”

Likewise, the program has been just as enthusiastically embraced by the DCC students. Not only does it provide them the opportunity to get out into the community more, but it also allows them to be invested in something and fill a leadership role.

This has translated to some personal improvements, DCC Athletic Director Joe Peterson noted, as the students are inspired to do their best to set a good example.

“When I was talking to some of my kids who had mentors last year, they said it’s just really nice to have someone there just to listen to you,” Katy Kennedy, WMS principal “A lot of students need someone to listen to them, someone who can be a friend. The program has been a great benefit to the middle school students and the college kids because it gives them that person. It’s nice to have someone to be invested in,” Peterson said. “Anytime you see yourself as a mentor or a role model, you hold yourself to a higher standard.”

The enthusiasm for the program has even become somewhat contagious, as Kennedy noted that students at both the middle school and the college have tried to recruit others to join in.

Overall, she believes the excitement and passion students have shown towards their mentors is the ultimate sign of the program’s success.

“I don’t think I can quantify it, but when one of my kids found out he had the same exact mentor this year and that he’s back, he lit up a room... and that says a lot. When I have kids coming to me asking, ‘Can I have a mentor? Can I have mentor?’ That has to say something, and when my mentors at DCC are literally recruiting people to be a mentor, that has to say something,” Kennedy said. “The joy that the mentors bring to our kids is priceless.”

With the program showing to be such a success for the second year, it is highly likely it will return again next year.

Reach Hunter Herbaugh at rrreporter@rangerreview. com.