Mill Creek elementary and middle students are just a little more than halfway through their first year on the new campus, but thanks to their high school counterparts at Nolensville High, they are getting an early lesson in what it means to be a good student.
The Nolensville Freshman Mentor program was designed to help establish a community among the three schools and teach the younger students the right way to be a good student and friend as they enter high school.
“What motivated me was I wanted to be a role model for kids and for the freshmen too because they’re a great group of kids, and I think if they’re mentored, they’ll go down the right path,” said NHS sophomore Diego Zuazua. “We needed to set up some ground rules to help make everyone successful.”
The goal of the program is to mentor elementary and middle students so they know how to conduct themselves once they become freshmen and to show current freshmen what is expected from Nolensville High students.
One aspect of the program is being a lunch buddy.
The program is led by NHS geometry teacher and volleyball coach Ashley Sarmiento. Sarmiento helped out with a similar program at Ravenwood.
“It was just an awesome program, so when I came to Nolensville I knew it was something I wanted to start here,” Sarmiento said. “I was a lunch buddy when I was in high school, and the impact it had on me and the students I worked with was awesome. So with this being a K-12 campus, I thought we should give it a go.”
And the students have really responded.
The room fills with screams as the 26 Nolensville sophomores enter the Mill Creek cafeteria, and the high schoolers light up when they see their lunch buddies.
“They love when we visit and they just think it’s so cool because the older kids are coming,” said NHS sophomore Madilyn Garrison. “Every time we come back, the group we sit with will always be waving us over and telling us to come sit with them so we go to the same groups mostly every week.”
The elementary kids love the chance to hang out with the students they look up to, and the high schoolers love the opportunity to positively impact the students that will one day fill their shoes.
“It’s kind of just an expectation of what it’s like to go to high school,” Garrison said. “That way we have the foundation and our own traditions so they’ll know a little bit about that when its their turn to start high school.”