“I want someone to say ‘I know them.’ I want people to say I know they are a Peer Leader because they are committed, caring, compassionate, and engaged,” stated Ms. Gowdowski.
Talking to the Peer Leaders advisors, Ms. Pyle and Ms. Godowski, as well as some exemplary members, Hope Wright, Shane Mitchell, and Juliana Belle, it became evident that the Peer Leaders club is one full of universal energy for helping the school community. Although it requires much responsibility, commitment, and enthusiasm, these peer leaders take on the task every day, acting as a resource and a ‘peer’ to their fellow classmates.
Who are Peer Leaders?
Peer Leaders is a largely student-run organization where juniors and seniors can acquire a title that acts as a testament to their involvement in the school. Commonly seen in the hallways, sporting the bright blue ‘Peer Leaders’ t-shirt, they certainly exemplify a “Jack of all trades,” as club-advisor Ms. Chelsea Godowski put. “These kids are personable, they’re knowledgeable, and they’re accessible.” She later added, “They are compassionate ‘leaders’ in the building that others can look up to for a strong, positive example of what a good student is.”
The organization is one that radiates positive energy, specifically when it comes to bettering the school environment. One way that they go about doing this is through something many knights may be familiar with: freshman group. All kinds of memories circulate the monthly event, but Hope gives excellent insight into the Peer Leaders freshman group. She states, “I remember when I was a freshman. I didn’t really like the freshman group that much. I thought it was so ridiculous, these seniors making us play awkward games. But then I became a peer leader and I realized that they are offering us something. Especially now with Covid, we realize that it’s a good thing to extend a hand to other people—even if they don’t accept that hand, just knowing that it’s there is enough.” Outside of the commonly known Freshman group, Peer Leaders help new students navigate and understand the building (remember freshman orientation?), and bond amongst themselves after school hours in fundraising events and summer retreats, all displaying the bond, unity, and community that comes with being part of the organization.
What is it like being a Peer Leader?
Being a Peer Leader is quite a unique and unparalleled experience.
Shane Mitchell also commented on his perspective on being a part of the club. He said, “The student experience is definitely a great one. Peer Leaders is really like a community—it’s made up of all these kids that are really passionate about HSN and are very sociable,” then added, “It is a very teamwork oriented atmosphere and as a result, it is a lot of fun to be a part of it.”
Although being a Peer Leader is a huge responsibility—as seen through the commitments necessary to join—it also has twice the reward when all is said and done. Veteran Peer Leaders have enthusiastic views on the journey, especially when it comes to organizing events and putting together Freshman Groups. Juliana Bell, another notable member of the group stated, “I have always really liked talking to people and being friendly, so it has been really great getting to use my extrovertness to help others.”
For Peer Leaders, being able to lend a hand to underclassmen and other classmates is one of the most rewarding aspects of being involved in the club. Hope Wright wraps up the idea exquisitely when she stated, “I like the fact that Peer Leaders makes me feel like I’m doing something with my high school experience.”
Becoming a Peer Leader.
Although Peer Leaders is often looked at as only a club, on the inside, becoming a Peer Leader is not a role to be taken lightly. When it comes to Peer Leaders as opposed to other clubs, there is a certain weight to be carried by these exemplary students, which is reflected in its application process.
The first step to achieving a spot in Peer Leaders is undergoing a lengthy application process. The process involved recommendations from a teacher or guidance counselor, an interview with the club’s advisors, and an assessment of each applicant’s charisma and passion for the school. Eligibility to apply for Peer Leaders opens up at the end of sophomore year, and when selected, an aspiring Peer Leader can begin their journey with this club the following school year. Peer leaders are kids who lead both by example and direct action, and the qualities upheld by these students are the characteristics needed to become a Peer Leader. Hope Wright perfectly captures the agenda of the group, stating, “If you believe in kindness, Peer Leaders is a good place for you. You might figure out things about yourself that you never knew previously. Even if you’re an introvert, when you don’t like taking charge, you might realize that it’s very beneficial. And, you know, we’d love to have you.”
Furthermore, a factor that differentiates Peer Leaders from other school clubs, is the low rate of acceptance. Being a Peer Leader means signing onto responsibilities for school – whether that be in school or after school. The current Peer Leaders took on these tasks when they applied, and they have certainly lived up to the high expectations. Juliana Bell remarked on the Peer Leaders , stating, “We are really just here to help provide a comfortable space […] as a peer leader, you should just be comfortable with yourself, don’t be afraid to talk to people, and I think that’s it.”
Peer Leaders as a Whole
As known by many, Peer Leaders is an organization run by students, for students, to make the school a better place. This is done through various events held by the group through meticulous planning, with an immeasurable time commitment. These Peer Leaders have to apply to earn their high standing. They epitomized leadership, kindness, and a kind nature prior to when the position was given. The behavior of these students set a precedent for hopeful future Peer Leaders, and an example for the whole school. A quintessential model of how the term “Peer Leader” is both an organization and the students a part of it.
Picture Source: Peer-Led Team Learning (PLTL) Club
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