Holmes offers Tiger Talks for incoming seventh graders

Holmes Junior High has been offering seventh graders a helpful program called Tiger Talks. Tiger Talks is a peer mentoring program, helping incoming seventh graders meet new people, make connections and become successful. Holmes counselor Julie Rouse is the coordinator for this.

At the beginning of the year, after eighth and ninth graders are assigned to a teacher and a group of students, the groups meet twice a week. After a month goes by, they meet every other week, then once a month. In total, there are 11 sessions, and the 12th is a party, celebrating all they’ve accomplished.

This year, there are 107 captains (eighth and ninth graders) in the program. According to Rouse, 60 percent of the nominated students said yes, and the rest said no. About 10 percent of the returning ninth graders said no because they had too many classes at the high school or had sporting conflicts. Another 10 percent said no because they were nominated in eighth grade and decided that Tiger Talks wasn’t for them.

Regarding her thoughts on whether students like the program, Rouse said, “Well, it depends on who you ask. Some lessons may be boring, but each session has some sort of game. It also depends on how the leaders and the classroom teacher present it. If the teacher or class captains don’t want to be there, or they are off playing a game on their phones, students aren’t going to be as engaged.”

The session’s content ranges from successful study habits, organization, social/emotional skills, peer pressure and resilience.

The eighth graders are the team captains, and the ninth graders are class captains. In order to be a part of this program, the eighth and ninth graders must be nominated by three or more teachers. The teachers fill out a form that has the student nomination list. This list has three requirements: character, academics and leadership abilities. If a teacher thinks that a student has all of the characteristics, they can be nominated.

According to Rouse, Holmes teachers picked 191 students, but only 107 accepted the nomination.

Reaction to Tiger Talks has been mixed. Seventh grader Taryn Bumbulauskas said, ‘I don’t really like it.” She said lots of the eighth and ninth graders leading the program “seem patient, but some mess around. Others are really talkative.”

Bumbulauskas said she wished she could just play video games on her phone instead. “Please quit Tiger Talks,” she said.

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