A special contribution by Makenna Myrick, SPHS IB Class of 2021 

The statement “next year I will make a change” is a quotidian declaration. It waltzes right out of the mouths of teenagers and adults alike, and just like a dancer with two left feet, it often ends up leaving the stage without any follow through. Last April, that same idea surfaced and spun around in my brain like a prima ballerina, but I was determined to give it a true opening night. 

The notion of IB Friendly Faces (IBFF) was born in an IB Student Leadership Team Meeting, which is a program headed by our IB coordinator, Mrs. Lane, in an attempt to tackle issues the IB student body deems truly important. It is no secret that the transition between eight grade and ninth grade in the IB curriculum can be a jolting experience. After I heard the anecdotes of the then-freshman representatives concerning their first few months, I realized a helping hand was imperative. My own personal adjustment to high school included many drastic mental and lifestyle changes (whether that be keeping up with my planner or working up the nerve to ask an administrator a question), and I hoped that through IBFFs those extra anxieties and moments of confusion could be reduced.

Freshman in the IB program face multi-faceted and unique problems, as they are presented with a heavier course-load, more confusing schedule, and a heightened level of responsibility compared to their traditional counterparts. In the past, there have been individuals who rose to the challenge, and others who struggled without asking for help. The purpose of IB Friendly Faces is to provide incoming freshman with immediate access to scholarly guidance, navigation information, possible tutoring opportunities, and a source of advice concerning the program or even specific assignments. Rather than the student receiving a tutor when a sub-par grade is earned, the implementation of a friendly voice to suggest tutoring or a new study approach at the onset of the year proactively creates an easy outlet for student success. Not only does this program harness the potential to decrease dropout rates, it hopefully will lead to increased interconnectedness between grades and a more amiable environment for the newcomers.

Each Freshman is assigned a Junior Mentor, who communicates with them at least once a week through email and who meets with them once a month in person. In addition, there are two optional activities on the agenda: a picnic in October and a school cleanup in November. As this program is largely self-directed, the freshman can receive as much or as little guidance as they need, but their Mentor will always be available. The optional activities also play into the social networking aspect of IBFFs. 

The principal goal is to maximize the potential for successful completion of the IB program, and we are hoping to make a difference early! Our Freshman are connected through Managebac, courtesy of our teacher liaison Marsha Carlson, and our Juniors are connected through a Facebook group as well as a planning application called Remind. Parents, if you have any questions concerning the program or would like to get involved, please join “IBFFs (IB Bffs)” on Facebook!

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