PARKERSBURG -More than 100 Wood County Schools students met at McKinley Elementary Wednesday, the first step of a mentoring program.
Students from Parkersburg High School's development classes will spend the year mentoring fifth-grade students at McKinley Elementary.
Officials said the goal is to encourage students to remain in school and want to graduate from PHS.
Photo by Jody Murphy
Parkersburg High School student Eric Musgrave talks with fifth-grader Matthew West.
McKinley Principal Doug Jones said the program should also help develop students' reading skills.
About 50 high school students- primarily upperclassmen- met with more than 50 fifth-grade students in the elementary school cafeteria.
The meeting is the first step of the year-long program that will include routine visits by students to each school.
The high school students will serve as pen pals with the elementary kids, communicating on at least a monthly basis, Jones said.
"That's going to help our reading scores," he said.
Jones said writing letters will strengthen students' non-fiction reading and writing skills.
"It helps with reading and vocabulary acquisition," he said. "By writing about their experiences here and answering questions it helps develop complete thinking."
Jones said the development classes are one of several PHS groups that works with McKinley students. There is also a senior leadership class, Key Club and theater group that help out.
The developmental guidance classes are taught by Barry Kuhl and Charlie Gessell.
Kuhl said they are using the course to provide and promote community services.
Kuhl said his students were uncertain how to approach McKinley students.
"We told them, 'What would you have wanted to know when you were at that age?'"
The elementary students are at an impressionable age, Kuhl said. He was thrilled watching his students interact with the younger kids.
"I can't help but think this will be good for both schools," Jones said.