AHS's Advanced Peer Mentoring students started a program called Peer Ears where peer mentors provide counseling services to any student who needs someone to talk to. Small blue boxes can be found around campus in the library, athletics office, counseling office, and the Health Science classrooms. Students fill out forms describing what they want to talk about, and peer mentors then schedule a time to have a one-on-one meeting with that student.
Another option available to students is contacting a peer mentor privately through the class Instagram account, “@ahspeermentoring.” On Feb. 18 and 20 the peer mentoring class set up “convo couches” during lunch in the bowl, quad, and near the library. Mentors talked to lots of students to spread the word about the new Peer Ears program while handing out free root beer floats. Senior mentor Abigail Hurst said, “The most gratifying part of helping my peers is knowing that the people on our campus are feeling more welcome and happy at school.”
The peer mentors focus on creating a more positive school environment and the Peer Ears program is aimed at helping students who may be going through problems at school or at home. To prepare for counseling, peer mentors participate in training courses and mock scenarios in the Advanced Peer Mentoring class. The mentors are all certified through the Question Persuade Refer (QPR) Institute, in their ability to effectively communicate with a peer who is considering suicide. The QRP trains organizations nationwide in suicide prevention methods. So far during the Peer Ears program, most students seeking counseling want to talk to mentors about school, family, or friend related stress. “In high school we go through things, weather it’s at home or on campus...our hope is that this program will help out with those dark times, and allow students to have an overall better high school experience,” said mentor junior Cesar Bravo.
The peer mentors will have additional “convo couches” days this Spring and will continue to have friendly conversations with students. They also continue to brainstorm new ideas for ways to promote wellbeing on campus. Later this year, the class plans to put on a fundraiser for a program called Gravity Water which builds sustainable, safe water filtration and storage systems for communities in developing countries.