Carving out a place to belong

By christine keeling


About 80 fifth-grade students from Boardman’s Glenwood Middle School paired together Monday with their mentors to create a variety of pumpkin designs in the school’s cafeteria.

The social event was a way for the younger students to spend time with their eighth-grade leaders from the school’s Where Everybody Belongs program.

Fifth-grader Amanda Flak wrinkled her nose as she peered into her pumpkin. She and her partner, Delaney Labelle, looked to their mentor, Brett Brunko, to help tape their designs to the pumpkin’s side.

They chose to do a ghost and a pirate.

“The WEB program makes” the fifth-grade students “feel like they belong,” said Jenn Dravecky, the program’s coordinator. “They get excited that eighth-graders pay attention to them.”

The mentoring program is in its second year. It is designed to get the younger kids acclimated to the school and has improved attendance and decreased discipline problems, said Dravecky.

The students take part in activities together throughout the year.

Other pumpkin designs around the room included traditional spooky faces, football themes and school logos. The students’ creations will be judged by teachers today.

Emily Carnahan and Cate Green worked diligently together to create a puppy on their pumpkin.

Carnahan said she came up with the idea because she is going to take her dog, Max, trick-or-treating.

Carving pumpkins “is really fun,” said Carnahan. She said she plans to “hope for the best” when it comes to judging.

Students will have the opportunity to drop money in the pumpkin they like best from the top place finishers. The proceeds will go back into the group or be donated to charity.

Dravecky said she believes the program can change the atmosphere at the school, especially when the first fifth-grade group gets to be mentors themselves.

She said its amazing to see eighth-graders take on a nurturing role.

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