High school life can be tough for freshmen. With a new environment, they can be very impressionable. Aside from school issues like academics and peer pressure, they may have challenges in their personal life. The Students Teaching About Relationships and Success (STARS) was started in 1996 to help these students. King inclusion in the program started in February.
“King is the first school in Detroit [to participate in the program],” said counselor Deana Harris. “King is the pilot school.”
STARS is affiliated with the Friends First company founded in 1993 by Dr. Lisa Rue to emphasize healthy relationships, dating, and teen pregnancy prevention. If all goes well at King, the program will expand to other DPSCD high schools and stay in the schools for the coming years.
“Our experience is valuable and we gain more experience by being around others,” said program coordinator Michael Steinback.
Harris selected 11 juniors to be mentors for approximately 44 freshmen. Mentors were selected based on personality, maturity level, and leadership qualities. The juniors lead the group to give freshmen ways to be successful.
“I joined the program because I wasn’t always on the right path in life,” said junior mentor Delana Bailey. “A teacher took the time out to instill what she knew and what she learned from many experiences, so I would like to give back.”
Each mentor receives four mentees based on common interests. Though mentors and mentees only meet every Thursday for 13 weeks, the group participates in interactive activities every week in an effort to build bonds between mentor and mentee.
“One thing I’ve definitely learned is that the relationship piece [between mentor and mentee] is so valuable,” said STARS training manager Anesha Williams, who traveled from Denver to train students. “I have seen beautiful relationships formed between mentors and mentees. As a result, lives were changed dramatically.”
The mentors look forward to interacting and building bonds with their mentees, but also building friendships with their fellow mentors.
“My favorite part will be interacting with the ninth graders and getting to know them,” said junior mentor Micah Thomas. “I also look forward to building friendships with the other mentors.”
After the program is over, the mentors will travel to Denver, CO, with Harris and their program coordinators, Steinback and Veneda Sanders, for a four day STARS conference where they will be able to meet and share stories with mentors across the nation.
“There [in Denver] I want to be able to meet other mentors who have experienced the program,” said Bailey. “I want to see how the program has influenced and encouraged them.”
Even after the program the mentors plan on keeping in contact with their mentees to see how things are going in their life.
“I feel like if you do the program, you shouldn't stop talking to your mentees because the program is over,” said Thomas. “I think I should build a lifelong bond and friendship with them.”