Dublin High School Senior Grace Li on the Freshman Mentor Program (FMP)
Earlier this year, juniors and seniors had the opportunity to apply to be freshman mentors for Dublin High School’s first ever, Freshman Mentor Program (FMP). For those of you who aren’t familiar with FMP, FMP is a 24-minute period at the beginning of lunch, during which freshmen head to their assigned teachers and engage in activities with their mentors, which consist of upperclassmen. FMP was started by Dublin High staff Ms. Angel-Diaz and Ms. Byrne, and is held Monday through Thursday.
According to the FMP website, “The Freshman Mentor Program provides each freshman with a supportive environment that helps ease their adjustment from middle school to high school.” Freshmen are placed in “an ongoing orientation that includes information about school policies, procedures and programs, academic and social counseling and relationship building through upperclassmen mentors.”
I really wanted to apply, but finally decided against it in fear that college applications plus FMP mentoring would make me too stressed. However, curiosity finally got the better of me. What went on in FMP? What were all my friends doing during the FMP period as I did homework in the library? Was FMP fun? Was it hard? What was FMP?
I decided to visit two FMPs to find out exactly what happened. And after spending over a week in these sessions, I really regret not signing up to be a mentor when I still had the chance.
Mondays are meant to be “Media Mondays”, in which the freshman mentors present the events that are going on in Dublin High, and what opportunities freshmen may be interested in pursuing. This can include anything from spirit day dress-up information, to presentations about job possibilities at the Rising Sun Energy Center.
I ended up visiting FMP first on a Tuesday, and was pleasantly surprised by the energetic environment brought by the students. When people hear that others have to stay inside during lunch, some may envision a class of sun-deprived, exhausted students. However, this was the complete opposite of what Ms. Angel-Diaz’s FMP was like.
If anything, the freshmen’s bright personalities and buzzing conversations perked up my own spirits. I really enjoyed talking to some of them, and loved how motivated they seemed to be. One girl disclosed to me that her dream school was U.C. Berkeley, and immediately started asking me for scheduling and AP advice (I hope my ramblings helped). Her enthusiasm was inspiring – I don’t know if I was that motivated my freshman year, or even if I had any specific schools in mind.
Wednesdays are game days. While sitting in on Mr. Aminian’s FMP class, I discovered that the Freshmen Mentors were leading a game in which the freshmen had to guess the name of a song within the first few seconds of playing it. They were very competitive (in a good way), motivated, and knowledgeable about pop songs. I could definitely see how much the mentors wanted for FMP to be a fun environment, and judging by the freshmen’s excited shouts and raised hands, I think they succeeded in their goal.
Thursday, like Tuesday, is also a study hall. Before, I talked about how motivated the freshmen were. I forgot to mention how the mentors were the same. In Ms. Angel-Diaz’s class, the mentors were walking around while the students chattered about their homework or other subjects, asking if they needed any help, or just making conversation with them. The freshmen seemed comfortable with the mentors, and the mentors comfortable with them. The bond between upperclassmen and freshmen is really important. Oftentimes, I would rely on my upperclassmen friends to give me advice about which classes to take.
At Dublin High School, FMP mentors must apply through a written/typed application, and then attend training once a month during a Friday lunch period. In the written application, potential mentors are asked to describe their passions, their experience as leaders, and their interest in FMP. Mentors are also asked to consider the “The First 7 Seconds” concept, which says that it “takes an adult 7 days to 7 weeks to make an impact on a student’s life, but it takes another student their age or slightly older 7 seconds to 7 minutes to make a difference.”
All in all, FMP seems to be an incredible environment for anyone to be in. I often hear my FMP friends coming out of their respective FMP classes, talking about “Oh yea, the counselors came in today” or “That game with yarn?” before bursting into peals of laughter. Whether or not my time visiting FMP is reflective of what FMP is like across all freshmen, I know that I enjoyed my time there, and I know that other freshmen will too.
So what is FMP? Ultimately it’s what the mentors and the freshmen make of it. Dublin High School, especially now, is constantly growing and shifting and expanding to meet greater numbers of new students, and greater expectations. FMP is a way for us to not just keep up with these changes, but to embrace and pioneer them.
Author Grace Li is a Dublin High School Class of 2015 senior.