Every student experiences their first day at a high school. Whether that be on the first day of freshman year or three quarters into junior year, it’s never easy. Joining a new school after everyone else may make one feel behind or lost, but the Student Ambassador Program exists to hopefully make the transition a little easier.
The Student Ambassador Program, created in 2008, is student lead and its’ purpose is to introduce new students to East. A group of East students, who are familiar with the school, apply, interview, go through training, and attend meetings to ensure they are capable of providing the help a new student may need when transitioning into the new school.
When the student arrives, a student ambassador is assigned to them based on their own schedule and availability.
Senior Michael Walsh said that his ambassador helped him with a variety of different things when he transferred to East last year.
“[My ambassador] helped me find where I needed to go, get my ID, and my books,” Walsh said.
Anything an East student may need or use for their classes, a transfer student has to get on their first day. Senior Adam Noon said, as an ambassador, he has helped new students with many different things that they may need when transferring.
“I have helped new students with all sorts of things, from getting their schedule, ID, locker, text books, their computer login, getting lunch, and of course class to class help,” Noon said.
Ambassadors also tour the school with their students and try to give them insight into classes at East before they start school. Sophomore Duane Enty, who recently transferred to East this year, said how his ambassador gave him a preview of East and his classes before starting was helpful.
“I liked that I was able to get a full tour of the school and got to briefly see what class was like prior to going into a classroom,” Enty said.
Sophomore Sara Walsh said learning the location of a couple main areas was beneficial when becoming a student at East.
“[My ambassador] showed me all of the important places: like where all the bathrooms are, the library, the dean’s office, the different gyms, and student services,” Walsh said. “She also helped me find each of my classes.”
Sophomore Piper Borsellino said getting class to class help was the most beneficial part to the program and, even after she thought she had gotten used to the school, the program still helped out.
“What helped me most was getting to my classes and finding where they were,” Borsellino said. “I thought I didn’t need help after the second day but I did. I got very lost, but the ambassadors helped me a lot and in many ways nobody else could.”
Freshman Emma Jaros explained how her ambassador helped her with more than just the layout of the school.
“The student ambassadors that I met helped me feel more accustomed to East by teaching me things that would have taken me awhile to get the hang of by myself,” Jaros said. “They also informed me how lunch and the passing periods work and taught me how to open my locker, which I had never done before,” Jaros said.
Freshman Alisha Khan said that the Student Ambassador Program helped her open up socially and feel welcomed to the school by its’ students.
“The student ambassador program really helped me by being really social and by [my student ambassador] making conversation with me instead of being quiet,” Khan said. “Even when the conversation was dead, he tried to restart it.”
Jaros said that, despite all the help from her ambassador, she wished the information she was being given was less repetitive. She said she was grateful for all of their efforts, but wished for more information instead of the same speech.
“The only thing I think the student ambassador program could improve on is how much information they give,” Jaros said. “The information that I learned was important, but I was given the same information over and over again with rarely something I was not already told.”
Walsh added that she wished she would have received more information on things outside of the classroom when transferring.
“I wish my ambassador would have shared more information on clubs or activities that go on here,” Walsh said. “I didn’t know much about extracurriculars coming into East.”
Sophomore Emma Walsh said that even though her ambassador seemed nice, she did not feel as welcomed to East as she could have.
“I think my ambassador did the best she could, but I didn’t feel very welcomed,” Walsh said. “I wish she would have introduced me to more people, students and teachers. That would have helped me feel more comfortable in the new school.”
The program moves at different paces to conform to the students’ needs. Senior ambassador Melissa Henderson said she has experienced students who need help for a couple days longer than others.
“I had one student that I had to help for over four days.They just couldn’t figure out where they were going or what they were doing at all,” Henderson said.
Henderson explained another part of her job as an ambassador and how it can change depending on how social the student is.
“When you’re a student ambassador you usually sit with the new student at lunch until they make new friends, but in one student’s case, they stayed at my table the whole year because he didn’t have anyone else,” Henderson said.
Henderson added that she was okay with this, but it is unusual to see students not making new friends or catching onto the norms of East.
“That was fine, of course, it was just unusual to see, as most students I help make new friends pretty quickly,” Henderson said. “A lot of the students I help are good at connecting with other students and making friends, while others take a while longer and after a couple weeks they are still struggling to find their way to class and are sitting by themselves.”
East Counselor and sponsor of the Student Ambassador Program Brittan Fatig explains how, in some cases, students may need more help than an ambassador can give them and what the next step is in those situations.
“Things can go wrong sometimes, but at that point ambassadors let us know and then we keep an eye on it from Student Services’ side because we don’t want student ambassadors to have to deal with that responsibility,” Fatig said. “There have been situations that we have to have a close eye on.”
Jaros shared that in one of the previous schools she transferred to they did not have a Student Ambassador Program like East, but something similar.
“The last school I went to did not have an official Student Ambassador Program, but provided a future fellow student to have me shadow,” Jaros said. “I followed her around for a day and was helped by my fellow students and teachers.”
Enty included that he feels the Student Ambassador Program is beneficial to East and said he believes it should remain a club and a part of East.
“I think the program requires zero changes and should continue to exist within [East],” Enty said.
Allison McDowell is a staff writer for Oswego East High School’s online news magazine the Howl