IHS students reaching out to younger counterparts

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 17, 2003

Despite high school soon coming to a close, a group of Ironton High School students still have their elementary and middle school days fresh in their minds.

"We've all been through middle school, and we know how it is," said Marland Turner, a senior. "We know it's tough sometimes."

A small band of IHS students have begun descending upon middle and elementary schools in the district, teaching them about them about the trials of simply growing up - and how to deal with them effectively. Soon, the students will present their lessons in the form of skits.

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The focus of the program is to teach the younger students character development skills such as avoiding bad attitudes, having a good work ethic and dealing with and preventing bullying, Turner and fellow senior Trisha Kirk said.

"These could be problems later on. We're covering the areas before they have a chance (to develop)," said senior Anthony Rice.

One of the problems that Rice, Kirk and Turner said they faced when they were younger was the development of social groups - popular people, shy ones and intelligent people who are dubbed as "geeks and nerds."

"There's still stereotyping," Rice said. "We're teaching them to be proud of who they are and not to be something else that someone wants you to be."

Fellow senior A.J. Lutz has taken the leadership role of the group which now consists of a little more than 10 students right now, Rice said. The students were hand-picked by attendance officer Terry Saunders, whom they work with in this project.

The students said they were surprised at how well the younger ones pay attention to them. They also have the chance to be representatives for student groups with which they are involved. Kirk is a representative for the band, while Turner represents the football team. Both groups are ones seen on the field at games.

The younger ones are not the only ones possibly learning a lesson from the experience. Over the years, Kirk has gone through a big change - going from an extremely shy child to a 17-year-old who is now addressing groups of children.

"When I would talk to my teachers, I would do it in a whisper," she said. "Now I'm 17 years old, and I'm expressing my feelings. It's helped me be aware of how I've changed so much. I didn't always want to be shy."