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With COVID distancing guidelines in place, SHS has taken the opportunity to help students succeed and to help build school culture. During their lunch periods, SHS freshmen students now participate in LIFT, a student mentoring program, for half of their designated lunch period.
The program is designed to help students acclimate to life as a high school freshman and to help prepare them for life in and out of the classroom.
“Three days a week, LIFT is a guided study hall for freshmen, where the teacher will check their grades and help students get caught up on missing/late work,” stated LIFT coordinator Mr. Lazzara.
“The goal of LIFT is to help freshmen better adapt to a new school building and culture and help them understand the expectations that we have for students here at SHS, whether it be academic, behavioral, or extracurricular,” Lazzara added. “Walking into a high school for the first time can be scary and anxiety inducing for most students. LIFT gives freshmen a constant in their day and a safe place for them to learn, ask questions, and build relationships with their peers, a teacher, and some upperclassmen.”
“Saxon LIFT has been beneficial inside and outside of the classroom because, for example, I can learn how to properly take notes that can help me study for upcoming tests and quizzes,” freshman Eun Chong Park states. “Some of the skills I have learned while in LIFT are how to properly manage time and how to participate in the numerous clubs and sports available at SHS.”
Lift teachers are aided by student mentors, junior and senior volunteers who are trained to facilitate LIFT activities.
“I am proud to say that there are currently 74 upperclassmen serving as mentors in this program,” Lazzara added. “LIFT mentors run activities for the freshmen that range from social-emotional well-being, understanding our school culture, and academic skill building.”
Students meet new friends while integrating into the school community, helping create a safe space for growth and enrichment. They also learn about the standards at our school and how to reach them, effectively becoming better students and people in general. Starting at a new school after nearly a year and a half in quarantine, students are bound to be extremely worried and cautious in a new environment. LIFT aids in changing that mindset for a stronger community and foundation.
In the past, freshmen had fifty minutes to eat lunch in the cafeteria. This year, there are fewer options for students during the period. And with Covid spacing restrictions, LIFT helped alleviate spacing concerns.
“In a way, it is a response to COVID, as our freshmen need more support than ever. However, the goal is for LIFT to engrain in the fabric of SHS and be here to stay,” Mr. Lazzara states. “I look forward to the day, a couple of years from now, when our current freshmen are signing up to be LIFT mentors for the incoming class of students.”
As the year goes on, LIFT will grow and adapt to student needs in order to be as beneficial as possible. Even in its early stages, the program has potential to help create a safer and more inclusive environment for everyone, from underclassmen to upperclassmen to faculty and staff.