DMAE counselors Denise Astuto and Sapphire Toussaint saw a need to help new students transition into the school and as a result, they created the Raider PALS program. The program connects incoming students with upperclassmen from DMAE to show them around for a day.
“Raider PALS are essential to the School Counseling Department! They help us introduce new students to an unfamiliar school and help them navigate what can be a scary and overwhelming transition,” Ms. Astuto explained. “They are vital to our mission of helping each and every student feel welcomed and appreciated here,” she added.
When a new student arrives, a counselor calls down a current Raider PAL, who receives a badge that allows him or her to leave their class five minutes early and arrive five minutes late. The PAL will show new students the layout of the school, help them find classes, and take them to the main office to get the lunch application. The PAL can answer any questions the new students have regarding the school along the the way.
“As a member of the Raider PALS Program, I feel it was a wonderful idea created by the counselors at our school,” junior Rackeam Salmon said.
The application to be a PAL was sent through Naviance in December of this school year. Once a junior or senior completed the survey, Ms. Astuto and Ms. Toussaint interviewed the applicant. Currently, there are 10 PALS: Waily Jimenez, Nicandro Lopez, Madisen McIntyre, Megan McIntyre, Giselly Peralta, Jacob Remy, Rackeam Salmon, Rachelle Serrano, Aliyah Truesdale, Sandra Zapata. Five students are fluent in Spanish. The counselors look out for bilingual students who can help new students who do not speak English.
This program makes school counselors’ jobs more efficient. In the past, counselors took new students around the school. However, with this program, current students can help incoming students and make them feel more included. The advisers hope to expand the Raider PALS program next year.