Chattahoochee High Schoolers Help Grow Future Leaders
The transition from elementary to middle school can be tough. Chattahoochee High School (CHS) senior, Lotenne Nwokolo, was there not too long ago.
“Your teachers, they try their hardest,” she says of all the preparation that goes into making the jump from 5th to 6th grade as smooth as possible. “But they don’t know every detail.”
Lotenne is the president of Growing Future Leaders. The mentorship program was started by another CHS student, Tai Shlomi, as a partnership with Ocee Elementary. Lotenne expanded the program to her old school, Abbotts Hill Elementary.
“She presented it to us, we loved it, and wanted Abbotts to be a part of it,” says Tiffany Poke, school counselor at Abbotts Hill.
Poke invited anyone who wanted to be in the program to apply.
“I was really intentional about how I did that. I wanted any 5th grader who felt they could benefit from it to have a chance to do it,” Poke said. “I wanted to open it to every kid.”
The response was huge. Twice a month, 50 Abbotts Hill students meet at the school with ten CHS students. They start at 7 a.m.
“It shows a lot of dedication and commitment because our kids are getting there before their school day and the Hooch kids are getting there way before their school day,” Poke says.
Topics run from the basics, like organizing your binder, to the more challenging, like navigating the social complexities of middle school.
“It just resonates differently with them,” says Poke. “They’re able to be vulnerable and express some of their concerns in a safe space where kids are closer to their age.”
The high schoolers design activities aimed at helping students understand their options. Lotenne says they go through “the fun classes you get to pick” and cover heavier issues such as who to seek help from if a student feels overwhelmed.
The group includes TAG students, special education students and “kids that may not have gotten that chance to do other things,” says Poke.
Feedback from parents has been overwhelmingly positive, and the hope is to eventually expand Growing Future Leaders to other elementary schools that feed into CHS.
“All kinds of levels – doing the same thing and to see them all grow leadership wise, it’s amazing,” Poke says. “I love it.”