For the first week of August, seniors at Memphis Catholic ensured that the freshman class felt welcomed and prepared for their journey as high school students. Freshmen arrivied on Monday to find their lockers mysteriously decorated and filled with treats (seniors stayed late on Friday to surprise their little siblings). Then, freshmen used mystery bags filled with clues to puzzle out who their big brother or sister might be. Sibling pairs bonded throughout the week at a pizza lunch and a trip to Overton Park where students played soccer, volleyball, and Pokémon Go.
Recalling her own experiences at Memphis Catholic, Rebecca Rosa (Class of 1999) thought it was important to resurrect Senior/Freshman week and work to support its effects throughout the year. “I wanted our seniors to have the opportunity to mentor a little brother or sister just like I did, and I wanted our freshmen to have someone they could trust in their corner this year.” While the Big Brother/Sister program has historically only involved one week of structured bonding, Rosa and fellow teacher Chris Hardesty have much more planned this year. Students will get together at least once a month to ensure freshmen feel supported while seniors develop themselves as servant leaders and mentors.
Derrica and her freshmen sisters, Anna and Hailey, thought the Freshman/Senior week was a great opportunity for bonding. Derrica points out that she’s never had a little sister and she enjoyed getting to “better bond with two young ladies that I never knew.” Anna and Hailey send Derrica good morning texts and Hailey is excited to learn from Derrica. She says, “I’d like to learn more about her accomplishments and how she improved from middle school to high school.” Derrica wants to be sure her little sisters learn from her mistakes especially in preparing early for college. JC and his younger brothers, Anthony and Jonathan, have also enjoyed bonding over their love of sports. When they pass each other in the halls, JC offers his younger brothers a quick handshake before they hurry on to class. The three are sure to catch up and talk after school.
Beyond the teachers and students, the program also has the support of the alumni community. Alumni Paula Martello (1973) and German Lopez (2015) were thrilled to pitch in to help make the week a success. Martello funded the rosary rings seniors presented to their younger siblings at a Friday ceremony in the learning garden. Lopez purchased commemorative shirts for all seniors and freshmen.
As the year goes on, students and faculty alike are excited to see how the program progresses. Freshman Jonathan said, “I think [the program] should keep going. It’s good to bond with the seniors and if the senior has any advice for the freshman, that’s also great.” Jonathan and Anthony certainly look forward to their own senior year when they’ll return the favor by passing on wisdom of their own.