Heroes & Cool Kids. “What is it? Who’s in it? How come I don’t know about this already?” are all questions heard often when this club is talked about. This club is new to Verona High School, only about three years old, but it is a club that is important.
“Changing the world” is presented to the high school students as the mission and challenge of this club. This club is an honor to be a member of. All the students who wish to apply fill out an application and also have to get two teacher recommendations. This year about 55 students in various grades applied for the club. Only half were hand-picked and accepted. The students chosen are involved in a variety of other activities such as athletics, drama, band, student council, etc. These students are also wonderful role models in the high school and the community. This group of high school students train and then go to mentor the fifth graders at H.B. Whitehorne Middle School. The high school students are essentially the “heroes” and the middle school students are the “cool kids”.
Professional athletes, teachers, and other influential people associated with the program Heroes and Cool Kids train the students to mentor the younger children. The program consists of three training sessions as well as three visits to the middle school. On the first visit, the “heroes” get to know and play games with the “cool kids” and also talk about nutrition. On the second visit, bullying behavior and sportsmanship is discussed and on the third visit, something more serious like drugs and alcohol is discussed.
The middle school students also submit questions at the end of every session anonymously through the use of a question box. The middle school students can ask questions about high school, personal issues, and just fun facts about the high school students! The core method the program uses is not questions, it is stories. At every session, the high school students share personal stories related to the topic being presented. This is a way for the middle school students to relate to the high school as well as learn by example. This program is a wonderful way to influence the middle school students to make positive lifestyle choices. These “heroes” are starting to change the world one step at a time!
Kim Castellanos is a senior at Verona High School.