According to Guzman, the Ambassador Program is part of a leadership initiative for upperclassmen to set positive examples for incoming students. The ambassadors, primarily made up of leadership students, are partnered into twos, where they oversee 10 to 12 freshmen throughout the entire year.
“It’s a great program,” said Guzman. “One of the biggest issues we face nationwide is losing our younger kids to drop outs. This program helps them connect with their new school so their transition is much easier.”
On Thursday, 90 ambassadors helped hundreds of freshmen acclimate to their new school by providing individualized tours based on their schedules, playing games and promoting school spirit through a special rally dedicated specifically for the freshmen class.
Ambassadors were also encouraged to choose a theme and dress up for the event, according to Guzman. Freshmen and ambassadors alike were dressed in a variety of outfits, including western wear, superhero masks and capes, Disney attire and tutus.
The ambassadors —all wearing distinctive red shirts — made the freshmen feel right at home when they entered their new gymnasium by plastering posters of their graduation year, as well as leading chants, feet stampings and a large red sea wave.
“We have a lot of team building exercises,” said senior ambassador Emily Bingham, 16. “School spirit here is important and we want them to have fun with their high school career.”
“We want to put them on the right path to success,” added junior Matthew Valverde, 16, Bingham’s partner. “We encourage them to be honest with us and ask us for advice.”
Together, the team will manage nine freshmen, and are expected to keep in touch with each of them via email, Facebook, text messages or phone calls every day throughout the year.
Ambassadors are also encouraged to do 20 hours of community service as well.
Despite the overwhelming sense of responsibility, more than 200 students applied for the Ambassador positions at PHS, which blew last year’s participating class through the roof. Although only 90 students were chosen for the positions, Guzman was delighted to know that the upperclassmen were setting such a fierce model for their freshmen counterparts.
“We want to set an example for the freshmen and help them participate more in schools,” said Guzman. “Studies show that students who do not participate in the extracurricular activities are more likely to drop out.”
Keith Hawkins of Real Inspiration, Inc. created the Ambassador program and was Thursday’s motivational speaker at the freshmen rally.
Hawkins has been recognized as “one of the world’s top motivational speaker and leadership consultant.” He said the key to the program’s success was finding the right combination of seniors and juniors to help the program along.
“We are trying to help peers empower their peers,” said Hawkins. “The point is to show freshmen that you are not alone. We don’t give up on each other. We are trying to get freshmen to value their education at PHS and give respect to those trying to teach them.”
Contact Brooke Borba at 892-6187, ext. 24, or firstname.lastname@example.org