Student Ambassadors Train to Help Peers Form Connections
Just as band members and football players work on their skills as the new school year approaches, Frisco ISD Student Ambassadors also gear up for a new school year.
The new team of Ambassadors do not march or lift weights but they do brainstorm on improving the emotional climate at high school campuses and participate in activities to hone their communications skills. They risk sharing personal experiences with each other or talking to teens from other high schools about what is happening on their home campus. They don’t text it – they talk to each other and they aren’t shy about speaking their mind.
Student Ambassadors are nominated each year by faculty and staff at all of the District high schools. They are chosen as a peer support group to assist with school climate and work with the Guidance and Counseling department to present information and activities that address serious issues such as suicide prevention or substance abuse. The Ambassadors begin meeting and training over summer break.
Substance abuse and stress among teens were the two most common issues identified by the Ambassadors this summer. They had great insight and ideas to alleviate these ongoing problems.
“How can you ease these issues into conversation? How are you going to handle going back to campus and talking about these things?” James Caldwell and Patti Wilson of the FISD Guidance and Counseling department asked in response to the student’s suggestions. Ambassadors have to be willing to be key communicators in the classroom but also in the hallway, the gym, or the school parking lot.
“We need to help them (teens with abuse problems) connect with the community and school. The opposite of addiction is connection,” observed Zaki Sayyid of Liberty High School.
Suggestions for improving student life and campus climate were: more student-led marketing on campus, combining multiple interest groups to work together on projects, expanding diversity programs, student-to-student mentorship programs and bonding activities.
Ansh Jain of Reedy High School said students need spaces and times on campus where they can be comfortable talking about difficult subjects, such as drugs, racism, discrimination, and stress over academics. He said he would rather see conversations taking place than another viewing of a PowerPoint on bullying.
The students’ forthright attitudes as they shared ideas back and forth indicate that this year’s Ambassadors are gearing up to make 2017-2018 at their campus a year where their peers can be free to speak up and speak out.