Developing the leadership capacity of all eighth graders is a key component of creating a healthy student culture. Eighth graders have the most influence in the school; sixth and seventh graders look up to them. As we have created opportunities for eighth graders to become leaders, there is less “attitude” exhibited and more engagement in helping create the school. One of the most successful structures has been our Big Brothers and Sisters program where eighth graders volunteer to mentor a younger student in our school. The pairs go through a selection process to ensure a good relationship. They meet once a week. Over the years, the number of eighth graders who want to help has grown where 25% are involved. The “siblings” feel supported and our eighth graders gain a sense that they matter, that they can make a difference.
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