Freshmen and Seniors Buddy Up

Senior and freshman buddies bond during their first trip together this fall in Central Park. The program cultivates community by allowing seniors to mentor Frank McCourt’s newest students.

Senior and freshman buddies bond during their first trip together this fall in Central Park. The program cultivates community by allowing seniors to mentor Frank McCourt’s newest students.

By Evony Morel

A few months ago, Senior Marsel Shaqja met his freshman buddy, Kazim Khawaja for the first time at the Senior Buddies kickoff event in Central Park.

Shaqja is one of 85 seniors who meet occasionally with freshmen in order to provide guidance and mentoring to new students throughout their transition to high school.

“Don’t be lazy like me,” Shaqja told his freshman buddy at their initial meeting, “and don’t annoy your teachers.”

Khawaja said his  senior buddy, Shaqja, has given him advice crucial to his academic success. “Having a buddy allows me to learn how I can improve myself in school,” he added.

Ms. Morris, Guidance Counselor, established the Senior Buddy program last year with the goal of helping 9th grade students acclimate to the new environment at Frank McCourt.

“I think it’s really important for students to get involved in all aspects of our school,” said Ms. Morris, “and sometimes the freshmen seem to be hesitant about doing so.”

Ms. Morris believes that having a mentor in the Upper House is not only beneficial for freshmen, but also for seniors who act as advisers.

“It [the Senior Buddies program] allows the seniors to take on a role of being a mentor to someone, which is an incredibly valuable experience,” she said, adding that being a mentor gives people the opportunity to grow and discover themselves.

Senior Francesco Musio agrees that being a buddy comes with benefits, including bringing all students in the school closer together.

“If I didn’t have a buddy, I wouldn’t have any connection to the freshmen,” he said.

These connections often extend further than Frank McCourt’s walls and last longer than the school year allows.

Sophomore Israt Metu said she still keeps in touch with her buddy from last year, alumna Sibelle Muttalip Mejia.

“We have a good relationship,” she said. “She was really friendly; we still keep in contact now.”

Freshman Elliangel Vega, one of Musio’s buddies, said that despite being slightly different, they still find a way to relate to each other.

“It’s like a mirror of what I can expect when I become a senior,” he said. “It helps a lot in receiving tips on how to stay on your feet in school.”