Big brother big sister program starts at elementary schools

Over breaks and the summer ‘bigs’ send their ‘littles’ postcards to keep in touch.
Photo submitted by Kristen Bagnell.

Over breaks and the summer ‘bigs’ send their ‘littles’ postcards to keep in touch. Photo submitted by Kristen Bagnell.

Bryana Myers, Editor

The Big Brother Big Sister program is an annual occurrence in the Central York School District and will be taking place at Hayshire and Sinking Springs elementary schools. This year the program is for high school students to build bonds and be mentors to elementary students, in addition to helping with homework and activities.

It is a school year-long commitment starting in October and ending in April.

“Our biggest challenge is the commitment. We do ask they come when they can but we also try to be very understanding of sports coming up and those in extracurriculars,” says program support specialist Kristen Bagnell.

It’s a weekly devotion of a student’s time to spend time with the student they are paired with and build their relationships. In the program, the younger students are called ‘littles’, and the high school students are ‘bigs’.

“It is important for the bigs to be here for their littles,” says Susan Thomas, principal of Hayshire elementary.

The littles get to spend time with their mentor and receive help with their readings and homework, play board games and just have someone to talk to.

“[It]gives the littles a role model to look up to, and a special opportunity to have that one-on-one time with someone,” says Thomas.

Some bigs are able to return and be matched with the same little and continue to build their bond after another year.

“I have really enjoyed having a relationship with my little. He is always very excited about the program, so I’m glad that I can provide a time for him to have fun and hang out with the other littles,” says senior student Nicholas Buss.

Not only is the program great for growing socialization skills, but it builds on learning skills as well.

“Our statistics show that the littles academics improve and confidence improve as well,” says Bagnell.

BBBS was started by a judge seeing lots of boys come through his courtroom and thought if there was just one good role model in that kid’s life maybe so many wouldn’t come in here so he made a nonprofit program just for that.

“BBBS program boosts the feelings of a high school student to be a mentor and give them a connection to a little,” says Thomas.

To become part of the program, both the little and the bigs go through an interviewing process to be part of the team.

“We interview to find the things they have in common so they can complement each other and talk about things together,” says Bagnell.

Interviews are currently taking place, and more bigs are always welcome. Depending on the year, the program struggles to have as many bigs as littles, and they are still looking in need of more. The program accepts bigs from all backgrounds and hobbies.

“Overall,[they’re looking for] someone that is going to be a good role model,” says Bagnell.

Students interested can contact Ms. Carter in the discipline office for more information.