WARSAW — For students at Warsaw Community High School, being equipped with the necessary tools to navigate the high-stress of public school and the often frequent pitfalls of student life is a necessity not lost on the school corporation.
Warsaw Community Schools offers several programs designed to provide a team of both adult and peer mentors to enable any student the encouragement and guidance they need. The programs — Sources of Strength and Trusted Adult Campaign — help students by providing a network of student and adult advisors bent on providing students in need with much-needed emotional support.
Sarah Graham, co-director of guidance at WCHS, highlighted the progress being made by Sources of Strength.
“Sources of Strength has a model of eight core sources of strength,” she said. ‘One of those eight strengths is mentors. The trusted adult campaign assisted the students in identifying who they could turn to when needing support and positive guidance or feedback. It helped to normalize the behavior of reaching out for help. Sources of Strength utilizes peer leaders and trusted adults throughout the school and community to help students get connected to hope, help, and strength.”
Graham said when helping students to find success in the sometimes challenging school environment, interaction with fellow students is integral.
“Peer relationships are vital to the success of the program,” she said. “One goal of Sources of Strength is to have every peer group represented by a peer leader. Sources of Strength may not reach every student, but a peer leader associated with Sources of Strength can take what they learn back to their peer group and connect their peers to a trusted adult.”
Graham said students can communicate with each other using common interests or characteristics.
“Peer leaders serve as connecters to hope,” she said. “They spread messages of strength by using their voice, their music, their behaviors, and their belief that hope is possible.”
The value of the program is not lost on WCS’s top administrator.
“Programs like Sources of Strength are so critically important to the social and emotional wellness of our students,” said Superintendent Dr. David Hoffert. “Current students faces challenges and pressures unlike any past generation. Programs such as this help students identify crisis and know the correct trusted individuals they can turn to for help.”
Graham mirrored Hoffert’s assessment of current student challenges.
“Life for a teen today can be hard,” she said. “Social media and social pressures play a big role in a student’s life. Factors outside of school can also weigh on a student’s mind. Stress of school can be a challenge. Sources of Strength is here to spread hope, help, and strength in the midst of all of the possible negative pressures students are facing. It is here to help spread the message that students are not alone. We are here and we care.”
Graham said the school is developing ways to connect students who need the program to the appropriate advisors.
“We are working now with our advanced marketing students to create posters featuring our peer leaders,” she said. “We have also had various school media releases to identify peer leaders. Peer leaders have been door greeters at the school and have been been identified at lunch. We also have select days we all wear our Sources of Strength t-shirts that identify us.”
Graham said she had heard about the program outside of the school district and said a grant helped to fund the same initiative at WCS.
“This program was one I heard about five years ago when I was at another school,” she said. “It was a dream to bring it into the school. Upon my employment here at WCHS, I was thrilled to hear about the social-emotional focus of the corporation. We were blessed with a grant from the Lutheran Foundation to fully fund the program. It is great to see the support of the school administration and central office administration as we move forward in the program’s implementation. The long-term goal is that the Sources of Strength program becomes second nature and we all become messengers of hope, help, and strength.”