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Croton-Harmon Seniors Help Smooth Freshmen Transition

Croton-Harmon High School’s ninth-grade students reunited with their senior “Big Buddies” on the first day of school.
Croton-Harmon High School’s ninth-grade students reunited with their senior “Big Buddies” on the first day of school. Photo Credit: Courtesy of the Croton-Harmon Schools

CROTON-ON-HUDSON, N.Y. -- Croton-Harmon High School ninth-grade students walked through the school’s hallways, sought out their lockers, visited their new classrooms and felt a little less overwhelmed on Sept. 2 thanks to their “Big Buddies.”

Seventy seniors who are part of the mentoring program Big Buddies walked alongside their younger peers one day before the official start of the school year. The goal was to make the freshmen’s transition into high school a little easier.

“They’re giving us a lot of useful information, showing us around and giving us tips on how to get around,” said freshman Sara Martinez. “There are a lot of twists and turns around the halls. It’s good to know that someone is there to show you around.”

Seniors said they could relate to the freshmen because they remember their first days of high school three years ago and how an older student helped guide them through the same.

“The goal for us is to stick together to develop yearlong relationships,” senior Ijang Marie Abam-Depass said.

“We’re trying to make friends out of this situation,” senior Jordan Scott added.

The Big Buddies and younger students met in the spring to share personal information with one another, including the types of sports and clubs they’re involved in and their study habits. They kept in touch over the summer and answered any questions their peers had.

“[The program] is really instrumental to making the freshmen feel at home,” said Eric Rosen, Big Buddies co-adviser and high school psychologist. “We selected a solid group of seniors who are just fantastic. They’re looking to pave the way for the next crop of students, making sure that our kids are as successful as they were.”

Senior class President Susan Rykowski told the younger students that Croton-Harmon High School is a wonderful place where they connect with their teachers, learn from them and look forward to many exciting events and opportunities.

“I was nervous, but not anymore,” freshman Zoe Donovan said. “Now, I’m excited.”

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