Student mentors help freshmen avoid making the same mistakes

Illustration by Shane Braden, Patterson Press

By Ty’Shawn Key,

Individual Advancement Mentoring (I.AM) is a peer mentoring program started last year by my brother Alonzo Key. I.AM was created because too many students throw away their freshmen year. Whether it is due to chasing popularity, getting involved with the wrong crowd, focusing on other things, having too much fun, or just pure goofing off, every year a large percentage of students squander their Freshmen year. I.AM was designed so we can get that year back. Our goal is to reach the minds of our incoming freshmen classes, and influence them to get on the path of having a more proactive high school career through the acts of peer mentoring. Our mentoring uses the simple tools of motivation and enlightenment through student voices. Older students are acting as the big brother or sister figures that some of our younger peers may lack. These mentors are a select few members of this year’s senior and junior classes.

The program is supervised by Mrs. McIntosh, myself and several other upperclassmen, including Kwynten Brooks, a star player on the Patterson Clippers Boys Basketball team, Johnny Alvarez, an amateur skater and photographer sponsored by Fly Geenius, Jamahl Loney, a DECA Regional competition placer, and several other decorated individuals. Together we are actively trying to change the lives of our Patterson 500 Family’s young men and women, the future faces of our school. Our mentors sacrifice every other Tuesday and Thursday Futures period to shed some light on these young individuals, so that they can have the advice and help that we all wish we had as freshmen.

Olagoke Sanusi, one of junior leaders, described working with the freshmen as an experience that he would never forget. “Never would I imagine that me and my few life experiences could ever really help someone else with their life and situations just by talking to them about it”, he said. “It put me in a position where I was that external factor for someone else. I was the one who decided to either give them the assist, or let them get fouled…”

This has been one of the best years of my entire high school career, and it’s not because I’ve been accepted into the school of my dreams or because I have achieved some of my personal goals. It has been one of my best years because I can now leave my school saying I helped change someone’s life. As the saying goes, “a diamond in the rough shines its brightest only after someone picks it up to polish it.”

If you know of any intelligent, caring, respectable, productive and well-spoken individuals who will be juniors or seniors in the fall, please direct them to Mrs. McIntosh’s office for mentor enrollment for next school year.


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