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Big Hawk-Little Hawk Mentor Program Underway at Mid-Prairie West Elementary

Posted: Monday, November 20th, 2017 at 6:24 am
Author: KCII News - Sam McIntosh

Mid-Prairie High School mentors play games with Mid-Prairie West Elementary students during the Big Hawk-Little Hawk Program. Photo by Sam McIntosh.

Being a positive role model and showing younger students that they matter are tenets of the Big Hawk-Little Hawk Program at Mid-Prairie West Elementary.

Fifty Mid-Prairie High School students visit with 50 mentees at the elementary school two Wednesdays each month throughout the school year, doing a range of activities from playing board games to helping students with homework. Program Coordinator Sara Puttmann shares the benefits of this mentorship, “It’s definitely a two-fold benefit for the mentees getting a positive [experience], something to look forward to. Attendance on these days I hear at the elementary is up. Those students who maybe sometimes don’t want to come to school want to come to school on the day that their mentor is meeting with them. Also for our high schoolers, what better way to make a difference than to mentor a student, and to feel that what I do here matters. So anything that we can do to say, ‘You’re important, you matter,’ I think it’s a win-win for all involved.”

Fourth grader Gentry Bontrager says what he enjoys about hanging out with his mentor senior Wyatt Stumpf, “We get to talk to each other and play games and have fun.” Stumpf comments on the experience, “This is actually my first year and I’m a senior now, and I wish that I had been more active and done it maybe in the past three years I could have done it.”

Third grader Ariel Kaufman says what she looks forward to in this year-long program, “Playing lots of Clue!” Kaufman’s mentor, Shelby Zahradnek, has been in the program all four years of high school, “I just look forward to being able to make an impact in someone else’s life that wouldn’t necessarily have someone to impact their life. Another thing is making connections just outside of the mentoring program. I know she competitive dances at a dance studio in Kalona, and so I plan on going and watching her dance at recitals and stuff.”

There is a multi-step process for high schoolers to be chosen as mentors, the opportunity is first offered to the school’s leadership team, and then students must fill out an application and offer a teacher recommendation. The Big Hawks work to give their Little Hawks a voice and lead the way.