Fort Polk families a priority with student mentor program in Leesville

LEESVILLE, La. (KALB) - The first day of school can be stressful for any student, especially those entering into the big leagues as a freshman in high school. The transition can be even more challenging for Fort Polk families new to Vernon Parish.

Leesville High School Principal Tamela Phillips said every year they see new military faces and aim to make them feel right at home, starting with orientation.

"Approximately 40 percent of our student population is military," Phillips said. "So we strive to make that transition for them as easy as possible. We know it is not going to be an easy transition, but whatever we can help to make it easier we try to do."

One way is with Student to Student Mentorship, a student-led buddy system for all newbies.

"We have a lot of cultures and it just helps them transition into the school," said senior mentor Sarah Stafford. " To make sure they feel welcome and feel like a true Wampus Cat."

New to Leesville High, but not to the area, Fort Polk family Veronica Clarke and her daughter Jazmine experienced 'S2S' in middle school.

"She had somebody and I didn't have to worry if she was going to eat lunch by herself, or if she wasn't going to know where her classes were," Veronica Clarke said. "So the student to student program is definitely a great thing here."

Aside from the program, Fort Polk families said they are pleased with the school system.

"They set aside time and they take care of everything we need to to get our children processed into the school," said LTC Jonathan Graebener.

Another father thought the orientation process was easy.

"It seems to be very well organized, so the paperwork is all lined up," said SSG Joseph Knaack.

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