Skyview High School is the first school in the local area to implement the Aspirations Advocate Program, thanks to Principal John Pothast and his wife Sheilah-Margaret.
The mentor program was first presented to the school district in the fall of '99 at an in-service at the beginning of the school year. That was when John Pothast, Principal at Skyview High School developed an interest in starting a program at Skyview, according to Sheila-Margaret Pothast, Mentor/Volunteer Coordinator for the Program.
"After thinking of volunteering an hour a week in the Library at Skyview, the Principal and my spouse, John Pothast, said I have a better idea and presented me with the opportunity to facilitate this mentor program at Skyview, and I'm really excited to be doing it," said Sheilah-Margaret to the Soldotna Rotary Club last week.
Impact studies by Big Brothers of America have demonstrated significant percentages that students who have a mentor are less likely to begin using drugs and alcohol and are less likely to hit someone during a conflict. Pothast received training at the University of Maine and has since implemented the program at Skyview that now has 11 mentors and 21 students. The mentors have been personally invited to participate by principal Pothast and have committed to be part of the program for entire school year.
So far the Aspirations Advocate Program is being well received by students and adults alike, "The students are very excited. On several occasions I have seen students waiting at the door for their mentor very excited to have them there on campus. And what we have found is that students in the past that have had poor attendance records are not missing school on the days they are meeting with their mentors. They are on campus and ready to go," said Sheilah-Margaret.
She hopes that the program will expand to other sites in the school district and positively impact more students, "Training for the program is available for every school in the district along with help to facilitate the advocacy program. I'm available to speak to schools throughout the district and something we are looking forward to is spreading the program district wide and hopefully reaching more students," added Pothast. Adults interested in participating may contact John Pothast at Skyview High School.
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