NORTH LIMA — South Range High School freshmen Anna Cullar and Melissa Melnick feel more comfortable these days walking in the hallways at the high school.
In a world where seniors are often off limits or intimidating to underclassmen, Cullar and Melnick are hanging out — even socializing — with their senior “sisters.”
A program in its infancy, The Sisterhood pairs 43 freshman and 34 senior girls for mentoring as a way to improve peer relations, communication, self-esteem and overall morale.
Fifteen female professionals from the community — including teachers, a judge, professors and business owners — also play a part, lending themselves to help students connect and network.
The program came about after Principal Phil Latessa and high school guidance counselor Cindy Maynard decided to try and stop the typical he-said-she-said trap of adolescence. The catalyst, they say, was social conflict among freshmen girls last year.
Seniors Marie Downie and Hilary Skidmore said The Sisterhood helps bring together students who may otherwise not get to know each other, making relations less awkward.
Both have taken on leadership roles in The Sisterhood as part of their senior projects, a requirement for Bonnie Molnar’s English class. At the end of the year, they will have to make presentations before a panel of judges and write term papers.
“Our senior girls are our best resource for our freshmen girls,” said Maynard, whose daughter, Hayley, is a freshman in the program.
Latessa, who is known as “Mr. Sister” within the group, said the girls are learning lessons now that will help them in the future. “They may not even know what they’re getting out of this until later in life,” he said.
Read the full story Monday in The Vindicator and on Vindy.com.