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Making middle school less scary, hundreds of middle schoolers become mentors

Posted at 5:39 PM, Jan 28, 2020

GRAND ISLAND, N.Y. (WKBW) — Starting middle school can be scary. That's where WEB, standing for "Where Everybody Belongs," comes in.

About 400 student leaders from nine middle schools across Western New York gathered at the WEB regional conference on Grand Island on Tuesday. The 7th/8th graders mentor the new 5th/6th graders in their schools. The students at the conference shared ideas on how to be mentors.

Ta'Miah Wilkes, an 8th grader at Veronica Connor Middle School on Grand Island, gives advice on how to new students can make friends.

"Just put yourself out there," she said. "What's the worst that could happen to it. You know each other, you're all from the same place, Grand Island. If there's a new kid, say what's up, what's the harm."

Moving up to middle school can bring a variety of challenges. Wilkes said the most common issue 6th graders had in the beginning of the year was with lockers.

Deanna Przepiora is the WEB Coordinator at Veronica Connor Middle School, and said the program has made an impact.

"This program is alleviating that stress," she said. "They're no longer scared, they're no longer fearful. We're seeing an increase in the number of tears on the first day of school. They're feeling welcomed as soon as they walk through the door."

Maybe middle school isn't that scary after all.

"Now when I see them in the hallway, they scream my name, we make inside jokes," said Wilkes.