Leadership course connects high school students with kindergarten kids in Riverside



Groups of juniors and seniors from Riverside High School visited kindergarten classrooms last week for the Sidekicks program, which was launched earlier this school year as a way to bond high school students with children in Kindergarten.

The program is part of the High School Student Initiative Course for Developing Excellence in Leadership. This was the Sidekicks’ second visit, and they aim to visit kindergarten students in elementary schools in the district at least once a month, noted SIDE and world history teacher Jeff Eckles.

He said the idea for the program came from last year’s Winter Fest event, where SIDE students visited elementary schools to participate in “a mini-Olympic-like activity.” Some of the high school students have started discussing a comeback on a more cohesive basis.

“The idea was just to bond with our kids. We think our younger kids, we want them to see what their future looks like,” Eckles said, adding later, “and honestly, that’s also exciting.” our kids, because the older you get, sometimes the enthusiasm for school dwindles a bit.”

Students on SIDE’s leadership team are responsible for planning kindergarten visits, preparing activities and coordinating with teachers, SIDE and English teacher Jaime McIntyre said.

Eckles added: “A big part of our course is leadership, so they learn how to lead different age groups.”

Senior Sam Volpe and juniors Jason Mackey and Jayda White were part of a group that visited Riverview Elementary School on Oct. 27. Volpe said high school and kindergarten kids make apple trees.

“They’re so excited about the little things we do,” said Volpe, who joined because she wants to be a teacher.

Sidekicks from Riverside High School and kindergartners from Riverview Elementary School work on crafts as part of the Sidekicks program tour Oct. 27. (Bryson Durst – The News-Herald).

Mackey said he enjoys working on crafts because it allows for more personal interaction with kindergartners.

“I think it’s fun to come back because we were all there at some point in our lives. We’ve all been the younger ones looking up to the older kids, so it’s fun to be the older kid they look up to,” he said.

“It’s such a fun time, and I’m so happy that we can help the community in this way,” White said.

Riverview kindergarten teacher Katherine Gelman appreciated the extra help and mentorship provided by the Sidekicks.

“Just seeing some of these high school kids come in and work with these young kids, it really builds a sense of community in my eyes and in theirs,” she said. “It’s really exciting. When I told the class they were coming this morning, everyone clapped.

Gelman added that the Sidekicks will work with the same group of kindergartners each visit.

“Small groups allow these students to experience things that just aren’t possible with just one person in the room,” she said.

The Sidekicks visited all four elementary schools in the district on Oct. 27, noted Nick Carrabine, director of marketing and communications for the district.

In addition to the Sidekicks program, McIntyre said other activities on the two-year SIDE course include helping eighth-graders transition to the Riverside campus, Lean Six Sigma-accredited training, participating in of entrepreneurship and leading other projects at the school. Students can list some of the class activities on their resume.

She said SIDE students are also planning the district’s annual Halls of Holly event, which is scheduled for Dec. 3.

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