It's your first day at school and as you're walking along the halls in search of your class, you start to worry about being the new kid... again.
With an average moving rate of every 2.5 years, it's not unheard of for military kids to have attended eight or more schools by the time they graduate; a unique challenge indeed.
Aimed at easing this hardship is the student-led, school-managed Student-2-Student Program where peers help transitioning students adjust to their new school.
"They're a welcoming committee for new students," said Dawn Simpson, NAS Patuxent River school liaison officer. "They will take a new student under their wing and show them around, help them make friends and be someone to eat lunch with the first day."
At Great Mills High School, members of the NAS Patuxent River Rassieur Youth Center Teen Council recently re-established the S2S Program with the help of the school's principal, Jake Heibel, as a way to support all new students with getting a solid start at a new school.
Heibel, who has been the school's principal for the past two years, said it was important to create the program at Great Mills for three reasons. First, to help the freshmen transition into high school; second, to help military transfer students adjust; and lastly, to mentor and help resolve conflicts between students.
The RYC Teen Council members, who are also GMHS students, said they realized the need for S2S at their school after having attended the Naval District Washington Youth Council Summit in September.
"At the summit, we learned about different ways to help make military kids feel comfortable in a new area and one of those discussed was the S2S Program," said Jacqueline Yannes, RYC Teen Council member and GMHS freshman.
Alessandro Bayola, NAS Patuxent River RYC Teen Council member and GMHS senior, said he wanted to get the program going because throughout his four years at Great Mills he's seen many students come to school and not really know what to do.
Now, as an S2S Program mentor, Bayola said, "I'm able to help people who just came in by taking them around the school, showing them what to do and how to go about their school day."
Along with showing new students around campus, Simpson said the mentors can also connected new student with school advisors of extracurricular programs such as the drama club, music and sports.
S2S support goes beyond the school yard, too.
According to Kyle Medlock, RYC Teen Council member and GMHS senior, while the idea for S2S is help new students transition into their new school, S2S mentors also show them a little bit of the community.
"Part of that includes telling them about some of the events happening around the area like the county fair and the oyster festival," Medlock said. "Generally just being friendly and having time to really help them."
S2S was developed about 10 years ago by the Military Child Education Coalition and trains S2S Program mentorsstudents, school advisors, teachers and installation school liaison officerson how to help students have a positive transition experience. S2S is available to all new students.
Other RYC Teen Council members who helped re-establish S2S at Great Mills are: Brice Benz, Aaron Britto and Julius Rosales.
For more information on S2S at Great Mills High School or any other school, contact the NAS Patuxent River School Liaison Officer Dawn Simpson, at 301-757-1871. For more information on the RYC Teen Council or the NAS Patuxent River Rassieur Youth Center, contact Youth Director Keetje Straub at 301-342-4498 or Program Lead Sabrina Barnes at 301-995-4177.