At least 49 soon-to-be eighth graders at Roseville Middle School volunteered to be the inaugural group of Where Everyone Belongs mentors. The WEB program will allow eighth graders to mentor sixth graders to teach them the ins and outs of middle school life.

At least 49 soon-to-be eighth graders at Roseville Middle School volunteered to be the inaugural group of Where Everyone Belongs mentors. The WEB program will allow eighth graders to mentor sixth graders to teach them the ins and outs of middle school life.

Photo provided by Rachelle Webb

Mentoring to ease middle school transition

By: Brendan Losinski | Roseville - Eastpointe Eastsider | Published June 25, 2019


ROSEVILLE — Roseville Middle School is taking extra steps to ensure its incoming students adjust to the challenges of middle school in an exciting new way.

Volunteers from the incoming eighth grade class will be mentoring groups of incoming sixth graders as part of the Where Everyone Belongs program. 

“It’s a nationwide program sponsored by the Boomerang Project, and they specialize in transition programs from elementary to middle school and middle school to high school,” said Roseville Middle School Principal Jason Bettin. “They believe you need more than an orientation; you need an active program to help make them welcome. WEB ... is their proven strategy for middle schools.”

The program will begin in the summer with two days of training for the eighth graders, Aug. 20 and 21, followed by an orientation day where the mentors will meet their groups of sixth graders and they will all get to know each other.

“We will start with two days of training for the eighth graders in the summer, and then they will help teach these things to the sixth graders when they come in for an additional day,” explained Rachelle Webb, one of Roseville Middle School’s WEB coordinators. “The leaders will provide help, including getting to know people and teaching them things such as how to cooperate, learning names and finding things in common. Each two leaders will work with a group of 10 sixth graders.”

Webb, along with fellow coordinators Cheryl Yuschak and Adrienne Miller, all of whom are teachers at the school, will help guide the mentors, but the program is based around the mentors being those who play an active role in aiding the younger students.

The program will continue throughout the course of the school year through a variety of activities and resources.

“We are very excited that our principal decided to extend it through the school year. Our WEB leaders will be placed in special homerooms so we can work with them on their leadership skills, and so they can regularly meet with their group of sixth graders,” said Webb. “We’re planning things like additional games and activities. We’re planning a Halloween Extravaganza, a dance for the leaders and the sixth graders, tours around the school, locker support at the beginning of the year and having WEB leaders available at lunch to help any sixth graders who might be having trouble.”

Bettin said a program of this nature is a big deal for students at this age and can make an enormous difference in both their school careers and the atmosphere of the school.

“I’ve been at Roseville Middle School for eight years now, and thinking back to my own time in middle school, you ask what’s the most important thing to them, and the most important thing at that age is feeling like they fit in or belong in a peer group,” he said. “They become more aware of their differences and what others think at that age. There’s a need at this age group for this.”

Webb said the program will give the students people they know when they start school and address their anxieties as they begin a new chapter of their lives.

“We’ve been polling the students, and some of the things we hear is they are nervous coming into the school, they don’t feel included when they come into the school and fears about bullying,” she said. “We want to address those concerns, build relationships with the older students and, hopefully, spread a message of kindness.”

Bettin said the program has been effective at other schools and that he and the other school administrators believed it would be a good fit for Roseville Middle School because it was putting the proactive element of the program in the hands of students. 

“We talked to several schools who use or have used WEB, and we decided this was a good program to fit that need. What we like about it is that it’s student-driven, not adult-driven,” he said. “There are three adults who are coordinating it, but the kids are who drive and influence the program. … The beneficial nature of WEB is to empower kids to create a safe and secure learning environment in a way where the kids own it. They have a say in shaping it, instead of being told how to act. They have a voice, and I think that means we will have a better school because of that.”

Part of the goal of the WEB program is to create a sort of self-sustaining initiative where those who benefit from the program go on to help others benefit from the program in the future.

“One of the key things this program stresses is it isn’t going to make a difference overnight,” said Bettin. “You have to train the eighth graders to train the sixth graders, and as those younger students get older and become the mentors, then we hope to see a big difference in the attitudes and environment in the school.”

“We are hoping within the next two years, when these sixth graders are in the eighth grade, we have changed the culture of our school and the culture of Roseville Middle School will be improved,” added Webb. “We want students to feel excited to come to Roseville Middle School and feel they belong here.”

Call Staff Writer Brendan Losinski at (586) 498-1068.