Collegiate Upper Schoolers Mentor Immigrant and Refugee Students
Collegiate School senior Kate Kinder shares the STAR program
in the School's newspaper, The Match
Through The Tuckahoe Family
YMCA’s program Strengthening Teens Academically and Recreationally (STAR), Collegiate students tutor immigrant and refugee students at Quioccasin Middle School
(formerly Byrd Middle School). The program began when its creator, Meg Billet, met with the principal of Quioccasin
Middle School, Cheri Guempel, to discuss the needs of the school, which is only about a mile from the Tuckahoe Family YMCA facility. Ms. Guempel informed Ms. Billett of the growing refugee population, and she shared that she felt that the refugee students were getting lost in the shuffle of the school community.
Consequently, the STAR program was born to aid those students with their homework after school on Wednesdays and Thursdays. The goal of the STAR program is to help students pass their classes and begin reading on grade level, keep them active through physical activity and enrich their lives through teen life skills such as cooking, hygiene and internet safety.
Collegiate students travel to Quioccasin Middle School every Wednesday and Thursday and serve not only as tutors but as mentors to these children.
“The STAR program is full of life. The kids I have worked with are some of the most inspiring, energetic and resilient people I have ever met. It is easy for our community to assume that the refugee and immigration crisis is so distant and irrelevant to our daily lives, but in reality there is an abundance of refugee and immigrant families living right around the corner. Interacting and connecting with these kids has been a truly special and invaluable opportunity that I will be forever grateful for.” - Kate Kinder, senior, Collegiate School
“STAR is a program that has changed the way I look at the world and how I can better myself not only as a volunteer, but as a person. I would suggest anyone who has an interest in international communities and new perspectives to participate. It really is a unique opportunity." - Kevin Cross, senior, Collegiate School
“Looking back on the past few months of being a STAR mentor, I still find myself surprised by how mature all the participants were for Middle School students, some still struggling with adjusting to a new country and culture. From my first day as a mentor, each and every student was exceptionally open to making new friends, listening to my own experiences living and traveling around the country and the world and how my experience contrasts with their experiences living in and moving to places very different than the environment where they were born. Beyond that, I look forward to each day working with the participants -- I love joking around with them, helping them when they need it and playing soccer even if they're much better at it than I am. And I'm going to miss seeing them three times a week this spring semester.” - Felipe Campos, senior, Collegiate School