Grade 6 students donning colorful tie-dye shirts with the words “every child matters” on their back made the first day of school even more welcoming for W.L. McLeod Elementary’s youngest and newest students.
The students buddied up with kindergarteners and new students to welcome them to the McLeod family, said principal Libby Hart.
Before then, the McLeod Cares Leaders had attended the school Wednesday, Sept. 1, to learn about the skills of being responsible and help get the school ready.
“We’ve been doing this for 14 years as a chance for our Grade six students to show their leadership skills, work on their leadership skills in their community and help them build their school community,” Hart said.
The students also role-played throughout the day, enjoying lots of food.
Over the weekend, they used those skills as they phoned their buddy and their family before the first day of classes.
“I think they love it, and our kids are really great,” Hart added. “They love looking after each other and having that extra responsibility in Grade 6. I never ever hear complaints about coming in for an extra day.”
During the first week of school, the McLeod Cares Leaders helped their buddy before school, during recess, and at lunch, with any questions they might have had.
This year 44 kindergarten students are enrolled at W.L. McLeod Elementary, each of whom were partnered with a McLeod Cares Leader.
“They’re our ambassadors out on the playground for the week, and then through the year, they’ll just always check on their little buddy,” Hart said.
The students are usually strangers as Hart explained they try not to partner up relatives or family members.
When Hart was vice-principal at Nechako Valley Secondary School, she said a similar ongoing program has Grade 12 students teaming up with and welcoming Grade 8 students.
McLeod believes it might not just be kindergarteners or new students feeling a little apprehensive.
“I think the parents really love knowing that there’s somebody extra looking out for their child and making sure they’re okay,” she said.
Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, Hart said the new school year went off with a good start.