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Peer Leadership Supports Successful Transition to 9th Grade 
by Dr. Josh Berger, Director of the Belldegrun Center for Innovative Leadership

Last week’s Peer Leadership Family Afternoon brought together 9th Grade students and their families to learn more about the PL program and to foster dialogue between students, parents, and guardians. Said senior Peer Leader, Dylan M. '22, “PL Family Afternoon was a great opportunity for both the 9th graders and the parents to communicate with each other and understand how they can help each other as the 9th graders move throughout high school.”

Peer Leadership is one of the programs that has often helped most with this transition. The senior peer leaders take a BCIL class titled "Applied Psychology" where they get trained to facilitate weekly outreach sessions focused on a range of topics such as mental health, diversity, equity, and inclusion, social media, and risk-taking behaviors. Students also develop BCIL Core Leadership Skills, including team building, active listening, self-reflection, and empathy. Special events have also become a featured part of the program starting with the fall overnight training retreat and continuing with off-campus group outings, individual lunches, and the Peer Leadership Olympiad. The senior leaders also periodically facilitate leadership training activities in the Middle and Lower School.

This year’s 9th Grade students have described how their PL experience fostered school connectedness and personal growth through the power of positive peer influence. Said 9th graders about their Peer Leaders:

"Jack and Sydney are the best people and Peer Leaders ever!! They brighten my day and are so thoughtful. They have truly helped me adjust to high school and I know that I can always count on them to support me. They are incredible role models, and I aspire to be even half as amazing as them when I am a senior!”

"The Peer Leadership experience has been awesome, and something to look forward to all week—not just saying that. Zoe and Jason have been really kind and supportive, and I enjoy the stuff we do like check-ins, games, off campus lunches, and other activities. I like being able to talk to the leaders as they are closer to my age, and this also gives me a chance to meet new classmates and make new friends.” 

"I honestly love peer leadership!  Sam and Amanda have been awesome. They are so full of energy every class. My 9th grade peers have also been cool. They’re talkative, interesting, and funny people. I love the class as it is and don't want it to ever change."

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