LEESVILLE, La. (Fort Polk Progress) - Student 2 Student (S2S) mentors from Leesville Junior High School and Leesville High School shared their thoughts and experiences from the Military Child Education Coalition (MCEC) National Training Seminar they attended this summer in Washington, D.C., with the Vernon Parish School Board during a regular school board meeting on Oct. 9.
S2S is an MCEC endeavor that is student-led, with established students volunteering as mentors to guide incoming students, primarily military-connected youth from Fort Polk, at their schools as they adapt to their new school system.
Zandra Grady, LJHS S2S sponsor, and Chance McGlothlin, LHS sponsor, said the experience was beneficial to the students.
"We had a great time," Grady said. "We learned a lot of things to bring back to our school."
The seminar consisted of student-led workshops on a variety of topics, including communication, fundraising and community engagement and team building; as well as guest speakers addressing life as a military child, leadership, character strengths, youth advocacy and more. The students were assigned roommates who attended other S2S schools participating in the seminar.
Additionally, students participated in a Capitol Tour and trip to the National Geographic Museum. While on the trip, LHS and LJHS students also visited historic Washington, D.C. monuments.
"It was incredible for them to get to go to Washington, D.C., and visit monuments, but also to practice those skills of being paired up in a room with someone they didn't know," McGlothlin said.
LJHS students who presented to the board included Esther Aduamah, Jada Leavy and Mackie Koury.
Aduamah spoke about how the experience shaped her communication skills.
"I learned many things that we could bring to our S2S, and I also learned to connect with other kids more," Aduamah said. "Even though I'm an extrovert, I still get nervous sometimes around people. It helped me when I had my new roommate. I didn't even know who she was or where she was from, but we got to learn more about each other."
LHS S2S mentors in attendance at the VPSB meeting were Bryce Lowe, Evelyn Cannaday and Tyler Reeks.
Cannaday said she the seminar gave her a new outlook on the purpose of S2S, and helped her get out of her comfort zone.
"Personally, I'd say I gained a new perspective. It was nice to see how, in a way, we could help make others' experiences better at a new school," Cannaday said. "It also helped me got out of my shell a little bit."
VPSB Superintendent James Williams was happy to honor the students, and said he hopes that S2S program continues to expand in Vernon Parish schools.
"Thank you all for what you do," Williams said to the students and their sponsors. "We appreciate it."