Plymouth Canton Schools empower 8th graders to help new students succeed

Seniors at West Middle School in Plymouth mentor 6th grade students; help with assignments and tests


PLYMOUTH, Mich. – Making the transition from elementary to middle school is not easy. In fact, it can be downright scary for some children. But that's why Plymouth Canton Community Schools empowers upper classmen to help the new students ease into this next stage of their education.

Leslie Zazula and Ruby Hauser are eighth-grade students who are acting as WEB leaders at West Middle School this year.

Their job is to help mentor incoming sixth-grade students and continue to help them for the entire school year.

WEB stands for Where Everyone Belongs and this is the second year the program has been enacted at West Middle School in Plymouth.

Under the program, about 250 sixth grade students spent a half day at school with their WEB leaders ahead of the first day of school.

"When you start a new school you're like nervous and scared about what's going to happen and where you're going to go," said Zazula.  "I think the new sixth graders coming will really benefit from the WEB leaders that we have so that they know where to go and so they just feel more comfortable.

The WEB program didn't exist when Zazula started middle school, but she thinks it will make a difference and possibly help stop bullying at school.

"I didn't ever have problems but in my classes I could see kids that were like, felt nervous, about coming to school or just like felt nervous about what things are going to happen," said Zazula.

Matt Cupp is one of the sixth-grade students Zazula will help this year.

"The WEB leaders are really helpful," said Cupp. "Sometimes the teachers busy and during the school day you can call on the WEB leaders."

WEB leaders talked to the sixth graders about their class schedules and their teachers, helped them learn their locker combinations and gave them a tour of the school.

"They're eight-graders and they can tell us like what to do, what they've been through and what they have to do as a sixth grader," said Emily Gilbertson who will also be starting sixth grade.

Valerie Swift, a counselor at West Middle School, helps oversee the WEB program. She said the WEB leaders will help the news students with their study skills, time management, help them set goals throughout the year and assist with big projects if needed.


"Eighth-graders are their mentors all year long, they're leaders, you know, the eighth-graders are sort of the big fish in the small pond now and it's all about building relationships with those sixth graders for the whole year," said Swift.

Zazula and Hauser also showed the ten students they will be mentoring where their home room will be so the students will know where to find them if they have questions or just need to talk to them.

"We can go to them for help like with homework and if we have questions about like what to do," said Gilbertson.

The WEB leaders will check in with the students after every report card and when big projects are due.

"It's letting the 6th graders know, hey middle school is not a scary place.  Not only to adults care about you but your WEB leaders do too," said Swift.

Swift said WEB leaders could also be used during the school year to help six graders improve study habits and get organized if teachers think the students need extra help.