Freshmen Mentorship Program – Friends Mentoring Friends

Here at Dublin High School, we are fortunate enough to have a program that not many schools are able to provide— the Freshman Mentorship Program, commonly known simply as FMP. But what is the purpose  of this program? According to junior Collette Lee,  “it’s a really great way to get freshmen to get more involved in school, ‘cause we give them information that they might not be able to catch outside of the classroom. …[like] through Media Monday, ‘cause we tell them about the events that’re going on through the week, but also we try to play games to make them come out of their shell more in class.”


Study groups, games, spirit-days, and rallies have shown an increase in  participation since this program was developed. Not only does this program work as a way to help freshmen interact in their high school, it also gives them an option of expanding their social circle or gaining a few extra shoulders to lean on.


“I think it helps freshmen cause when I first came here I was shy, but now I’m slowly gradually coming out of my shell,” explained freshmen Denel McMahan. “I haven’t made tons of friends, but I’m starting to talk to people in my period-classes. So I think that’s ‘cause of FMP, and I’m not so shy anymore.” In fact, Denel was so inspired by his mentors, that he’s not interested in becoming one himself.


But inspiration wasn’t the only thing to be found in the program—so were connections.

“I like how you can work with upperclassmen, and they can teach you important things you do at the school to help you and other people,” said freshman Isaiah Ontai. “I think the mentors are really good. They give us a lot of great support.”


He continued to describe how his mentors made him feel supported and that he felt more comfortable on campus once he knew what the upperclassmen were like. All the freshmen interviewed agreed that the FMP program brought them a sense of security, knowing that they could easily get along with their mentors and other students.


And their mentors knew exactly what their freshmen meant, because they had been in their exact spots themselves, only a few years before.


“I think I made my first friends in FMP,” confided senior Bailey Diaz. “I came from out-of-district. I was an eighth grader from Castro Valley… And we almost bonded because we didn’t like it at first. But after a while, you get used to seeing those people every day and you just look forward–to seeing the people.”


All incoming freshmen are new to Dublin High School, and some are new to Dublin in general. Many of them shared stories about how scared or intimidated they were at first, but after people like Ali Townsend were “being forced to meet new people” most if not all of the new freshmen felt much more comfortable. Like Bailey, Ali is also a senior mentor; she has been working for the program as a mentor for two years. What draws the senior mentors back? Ali answered that:

“…getting to know all the kids around campus, and getting to see all their personalities and what type of people are gonna be around our campus pretty much is what brings me back. And I love to work with kids, make them smile, see if I can help them, and not only see if I can be a mentor to them but a friend… So I think, directly, it’s impacted me because I walk down or I walk around school and there’s a whole bunch of my freshmen from last year who feel the need to talk to me or if I need someone to talk to, I know I can rely on them, and it just gave me a good idea of who’s on campus, who I’m surrounded by, and who I know I can trust.”


And Bailey agreed. She added on:


“I think most of the reason why I decided to be an FMP mentor is because I wanted to see the program improve. I wanted to make it more enjoyable. I wanted to make it a time where they can be stress-free.. Although the curriculum might be easier freshmen year, the actual like getting to know other people–it’s difficult. Especially, like, for kids that did come out of district, or don’t like talking to people. We’re trying to get every single freshman engaged, and give them a family.”


And she addressed how tight that family was. It didn’t matter if you were a freshmen, a mentor, or a senior mentor. Many of them were grateful for each other, and they had each other’s backs. She continued to express, “I guess I’d say thank you to my previous mentors… I really loved them, personally. Maybe our FMP wasn’t always doing the correct things, but they were always kind and they always cared about their freshmen. And I try to carry that with me into FMP. It’s kinda like my inspiration and what I like to provide to my kids.”


And those freshmen, and their younger mentors both showed pure gratitude to each other. Especially for the senior mentors, like Ali and Bailey. Collette wanted to share:


“I’ll say thanks to the senior mentors, the second year mentors… I think they’ve been really helpful trying to help us become more used to this FMP thing, because we don’t really know what we’re doing. And they’ve been really supportive and helpful.”


All of them had a glowing passion when being interviewed. Especially Bailey when she became a little emotional and especially passionate when she shared:


“I love, you know, doing this. I think it’s the best part of my day. Maybe it’s not the best part of their day yet, but in the future, they’ll understand how much I’ve tried to do for them. As an FMP mentor, I know that other mentors feel the same way, but they don’t always express it to their kids. Because, ya know… Just being like ‘I love you!’ It’s been 2 weeks. But you already have that. I care very deeply about my last year’s kids and I care very deeply about my this year kids, and I wanna give them an experience that they’ll remember.”


No matter who was interviewed, no one saw this program as a loss. The freshmen enjoyed that it was twenty minutes of their lunch, reaping all the same benefits, as if it were a class. Except without wasting as much time as an entire class. Junior FMP mentor, Cherie Hua also agreed, “I’ve sacrificed my lunch time, but I don’t really see it as a sacrifice, because we just play games and have fun in FMP. So I don’t consider it that much of a loss.”

All of them encouraged others to follow their path. Ali advised, “To anyone who wants to become an FMP mentor, I say just do it. And if your friends are like ‘why would you do that’ or ‘that program sucks’ or something like that, just do it. It helps you be a better person.”