Effectiveness of the Peer Mentor Program

Charlotte Preuss '26 and Norah Pond '26, Contributors

During the first week of school, many students may have seen groups of freshmen running around campus doing odd tasks: frantically gathering compost and fruit, taking pictures with the nurses in the health center, and sprinting around the track at full speed. These bizarre activities were part of the first Peer Mentor event of the school year: the annual scavenger hunt. Peer Mentors is a program in which two upperclassmen are assigned to lead a group of around ten freshmen to become better-acclimated to Loomis Chaffee’s campus and school environment. Although this program is an excellent way to provide freshmen with the resources to have an easy transition and adapt to a new school, its positive impact is diminished due to inconsistency, lack of clear communication, and irregular activities.
Freshmen receive numerous advantages of having an approachable upperclassmen mentor; the mentors help them navigate nearly all aspects of entering their exciting first year of high school. Additionally, seeing familiar faces in the dining hall and our classes, and widening friendship circles can ease the transition onto the Island. It is important for freshmen’s sense of security to have an older student who is sincerely willing to help simple things like walking to class be much more enjoyable. The peer mentors feel the same way.
“I think that the most fulfilling part is just seeing the freshmen around campus and when they recognize you and smile at you and see you and just know that you’re someone,” peer mentor Gillian Grant ’23 said.
Anna Barresi, who runs the peer mentoring program alongside Kenneth Green, loves watching freshmen grow more comfortable with their peers, upperclassmen, and the campus and enjoys watching them grow as a class throughout the year. However, the people she spends the most time with are not the new students, but the peer mentors, and she believes that, through participating in the activities and taking on a leadership role, they learn just as much as the freshmen do.
The peer mentors meet with Mrs. Barresi and Mr. Green every few weeks and provide a glimpse into how they are being affected by the program through the discussions that are held. “For me, that’s actually probably one of the most rewarding parts of it: getting to know the juniors and seniors in the group and also seeing them rise to the occasion,” Mrs. Barresi said.
Peer Mentor Will Howley ’23 feels passionately about the program and the direction it has moved in over the past few years. It has evolved since he was a freshman, and while he appreciates the fact that groups now meet throughout the school year, he emphasized that there are areas that could be improved.

“I think we could benefit from new events and be clearer whether or not it is mandatory,” Howley said. A Peer Mentor group’s dynamic strongly depends on how often a group meets, whether they are engaged in meetings, and whether they interact outside of peer mentoring. Having required meetings on a regular basis, perhaps biweekly or twice a month would allow for stronger bonds within groups.
Regular meetings would not only benefit the freshmen, but the peer mentors as well. Grant applied to be a Peer Mentor because she wanted to guide multiple freshmen and help them outside her extracurriculars. Present and engaged peer mentees would help her connect with them better and fulfill her designated role.
Also, one of the most important aspects of the peer mentoring program are the events, such as the scavenger hunt and time capsule. Even though these signature activities help encourage freshmen to meet other students and familiarize them with the campus, many of them remain the same from year to year and don’t occur often. Peer Mentors or Peer Mentees could brainstorm ideas for more frequent, fun activities, as consistent interaction within Peer Mentor groups creates stronger, more meaningful bonds.
All in all, peer mentoring has had a positive impact on Loomis students of all ages; having some friendly faces (both underclassmen and upperclassmen) around campus has helped ease freshmen into the school year and peer mentors have taken the opportunity to step up and grow as they help younger students. While there are mandatory events that could be added or activities that could be revised, the program has undoubtedly helped countless students feel welcomed and comforted during their years on the Island.