By Denali Pavlich-Wheeler, Todd Beamer High School student
The incoming freshmen across the district do not have to fear being knocked around the halls, stuffed into garbage cans or getting slammed into lockers anymore.
These myths are being put to rest in Federal Way with the institution of Ignite, a mentorship program focused on improving freshman performance and relationships in school.
Although Ignite began in the district many years ago at Federal Way High School, it has been picking up a lot of momentum around the four high schools over the past two to three years.
In Ignite, sophomore, junior, and senior leaders are chosen to be “mentors.” They are given the responsibility of aiding a group of five freshmen throughout their entire first year of high school. Mentors meet with their freshman “mentees” on a bi-monthly basis and discuss lessons such as effective time management skills, studying strategies, tips on how to avoid social drama, and other obstacles presented freshman year.
“Freshmen worry about what to buy for lunch or what part of the hall to avoid during passing period,” says Todd Beamer Ignite advisor Brian Graham. “The littlest things feel like the biggest problems in the beginning of high school. Ignite helps freshmen to feel more prepared for those hang-ups.”
Ignite was originally designed with two purposes: to improve academic performance and to build a community that supports and challenges. The change inspired by the program did not stop there. As the newest high school in the district, Beamer students have faced challenges uniting across grade levels as well as between the school’s three academies.
“I feel like Ignite has had a huge part in not only helping freshmen, but bringing the entire school together,” senior mentor Yusra Hamidani said. “There’s a sense of absolute school pride and support that was missing my freshman year (the year before Ignite was introduced). Ignite helped to foster school unity faster that it would have happened at other new schools.”
The initial intention to aid freshmen has not been forgotten. When asked what Ignite meant to him his freshman year, former mentee Carson Wright said, “It was really cool knowing that an upperclassmen besides my brother really cared about me.”
Considering all the positive changes, it seems that Ignite is here to stay.