As schools move through a year that finds most classes back in person following 2020 COVID closures, Lenape Regional and Shawnee high schools have both introduced programs to help students feel physically connected again.
Shawnee’s “Renegade RoundUp” and Lenape’s “Lenape Family” help high schoolers get more involved with their school communities, with meetings on a regular basis to provide a sense of belonging for each student.
For “Renegade RoundUp,” groups of six students are randomly selected from every grade and each one has two or three staff members assigned to it. The groups total 64, with about 24 students in each. By involving six students from all grades, the groups will stay the same with each year that passes and will always have a new class to welcome. Staff mentors range from paraprofessionals and counselors to secretaries.
Principal Mathew Campbell spoke about why the program is so important to Shawnee and what its program hopes to accomplish.
“This is what we came up with, this idea that now every kid automatically has, hopefully, this group of kids and teachers that they can bond with, and create a network with and feel connected to the building,” he said
The program enables students who are not members of club activities or sports to feel more connected, thereby introducing them to extracurricular activities they might not have joined otherwise.
“Lenape Family” has about 90 groups, given the school’s larger population, but the program operates in the same way as Shawnee’s. Lenape Principal Tony Cattani cited the encouragement students receive.
“There’s thousands of stories that every one of these kids have and our staff have, and it’s our job to find, to learn a little bit about one of the stories, so we can kinda help the students write their chapters of their life going forward,” he noted
Cattani hopes the program will keep growing as time goes on.
“What it looks like now could be completely different in six months,” he acknowledged. “It’s going to kind of develop as we go through it and learn as we go what our kids need and what our staff need.
“I think it’s going to evolve,” Cattani added. “It’s going to be the biggest piece of what our kids and our community and our families need here at Lenape.”