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Seniors Mentor Future Bearcats Through PAL Program

Nate Kumler and Cooper Morgan read to kids.Bearcat students are helping to build other Bearcats through the Peer Assistance & Leadership (PAL) program, which connects Sherman High School seniors to elementary and middle school students for mentoring and guidance.

“Some elementary or middle school kids need role models, and the PALs are the mature students needed for that,” said Linda Dorsett, PAL program advisor. “It’s about building relationships and maybe getting those young kids to come out of their shell.”

The PAL program mentors are recommended through their teachers and then apply for the course, and they visit two campuses every nine weeks. Dorsett said she tries to have a wide variety of PALs, from athletes to student council members to band members.

“The PALs are the cream of the crop,” Dorsett added. “Each one can connect with a kid and set a good example for them.”

During their visits, the PALs sometimes read to classes or sit and talk with a small group. Sometimes they’re asked to sit with a particular student.

“PALs just talking with a student can help get their minds off things for a while,” Dorsett said. “Sometimes the seniors can really connect with another student.”

PAL members laugh with Perrin ECC kids.The seniors also look forward to campus visits, which always brightens their day.

“It’s all about being here for the kids,” said senior Cooper Morgan. “It doesn’t get much better than seeing a smile on their faces.”

Senior Nate Kumler was inspired to apply for the program by meeting PAL students when he attended Wakefield Elementary, and in high school, he heard praise from members of the program.

“It was a lot of fun in elementary, and I thought it would be cool to go to all the schools, meeting kids and being their role model,” Kumler said. “When some of my friends recommended it, I knew I had to try this.”

Sometimes the seniors are even recognized by PAL mentees outside of school, deepening the strong community ties already present in Sherman.

“I see the students everywhere. My job, at games, even outside of my house,” said senior Shamiah Johnson. “It’s great. It's almost like being a neighborhood celebrity.”

Seniors even learn a little from their time in PAL, be it gaining the patience to handle energetic elementary students or seeing their mentee's resilience.

“Each day is a new day in PALs,” said PAL member Emma Mahjoobi. “I’ve learned that sometimes, you just have to keep going despite challenges, and these little kids always show you the bright side of life.”