‘Patriot Pals’ pairs seniors and kindergarten studentsPublished 11:00pm Friday, March 1, 2013
For two years, the faculty at Pike Liberal Arts School considered implementing a Patriot Pals program that would pair members of the graduating class with the kids in the kindergarten classes.
But it was not until the reins were handed to Jamie Payne, senior sponsor, that the program got underway.
PLAS Headmaster Ceil Sikes said the idea of the program is basically a big brother, big sister concept.
“We wanted our seniors and kindergarten students to spend one-on-one time with each other in a way that would be beneficial to both,” Sikes said. “We wanted to pair a senior with a kindergarten student so they could do things together. The program would give the seniors responsibility and give the younger students someone to look up to – a role model.”
Payne said that she immediately bought into the Patriot Pals idea but wanted to bounce it off her seniors before moving forward.
“I was honestly surprised at how excited the seniors were about the program,” she said. “They were anxious to meet their pals and start doing things with them.”
Because there are more seniors than there are kindergarten students, some of the young students have two “pals” and that’s more than all right by them, Payne said.
The Patriot Pals first met in the gym in January.
“The seniors had made name posters and each one was holding the name of their pal when the kindergarten students came into the gym,” Payne said. “When the children found their names, they found their Patriot Pals.”
Payne said that day was the beginning of many special friendships.
“We plan to have a special event each month when all of the pals get together,” Payne said. “In February, they got together and made Valentine bags. The big event in May will be like field day with a lot of games.
“But the seniors are doing a lot of fun things, individually, with their pals. They send them gifts on their birthdays and go to some of their class events. They find a lot of different ways to be involved.”
Payne said the response from the parents has been very positive.
“I’ve gotten notes from parents saying how excited their children are and how much they appreciate the seniors taking time to spend with their children,” Payne said. “This is such a good opportunity for the seniors to stay connected to the school at a time when they are looking toward graduation. And, it also keeps them aware that what they say and do is being observed by their little pals.”
Being a role model is a responsibility that should not be taken lightly, Payne said.
“And, I think that our seniors are taking their roles seriously and, at the same time, they are enjoying their relationships with their little pals.”
Payne said that Patriot Pals is a program that will be a hallmark of Pike Liberal Arts School.
“Already, some of the juniors are asking if we’ll have Patriot Pals next year and the answer is, yes,” she said. “We are passing the torch.”