By DENISE GUY
USD 435 Superintendent
Abilene Middle School is off to a great start this school year and it began, in part, with a group of students who are known as “Longhorn Leaders.”
According to AMS counselor Mark Shreve, this group’s first goal of the year was to help sixth grade students and other individuals new to the building make a positive and successful transition to a new school. He explained, “Studies have indicated if students have a positive experience their first year in middle school, their chances for success increase dramatically.”
In addition to planning a variety of welcoming activities, each new student was personally invited, by a “Longhorn Leader,” to the beginning-of-the-year school dance.
Mr. Shreve explained that incoming eighth grade year students might apply to become a part of the “Longhorn Leaders” group. Selection is based on established criteria and includes a teacher evaluation component.
He went on to explain, “The ‘Longhorn Leaders’ function as an anti-bullying program by providing AMS with a group of student leaders who look for, intervene, and report any negative behavior—thus creating a safer school for everybody. ‘Longhorn Leaders’ will be involved in the community as ambassadors for AMS; they also volunteer their time and talents to help in various community service projects. ‘Longhorn Leaders’ will also be visible in the elementary schools, presenting theme-based lessons to help assist our young students make positive choices. It is our hope to develop a core group of leaders who will continually work to be positive role-models at AMS and transfer these skills to high school and beyond.”
It is programs such as this that make students feel engaged and involved in the educational process. They teach young people important lessons that will serve them well throughout their lives and help them be productive citizens.
Kids helping kids. Very cool! And, even kids think so, as evidenced by what they had to say about the Longhorn Leader program . . .
“I feel it's great we can help 6th graders when they are new to our school. I wish we had Longhorn Leaders when I was a 6th grader, it would of helped a lot.”
“The leadership opportunity is one of the best things of the program. We are asked to do things that help with our leadership skills. It's fun and helps a lot of kids!”