By Angelina Villarreal
Through elementary and middle school, we would see them in the halls. They took students out of class and played games with our friends. High schoolers that would take time out of their day to be a PAL, those were the ones that cared. Now, six or seven years later, we are the high schoolers and many students are choosing to take time out of their day to be a PAL.
To Sarah Fambrough, the Peer Assisted Leadership teacher, PALs, or Peer Assistance and Leadership, is an organization that is devoted to helping younger students and occasionally the PAC Special Ed classes with their social abilities, providing a friend to hang out with. To become a PAL, students need to simply choose the class and fill out an application.
“Students here learn how to be a mentor and learn about leadership while also being exposed to different populations of students,” Fambrough said. “A really cool thing is that many of my former PALs became, teachers, social workers, and therapists.”
The PALs program is different than most high school programs because students get to go and mentor students at different schools during school hours.
“We particularly go to Lee and Johnston Elementary where students are assigned a little through Big Brothers Big Sisters,” Fambrough said. “We meet with them each week and have lunch and do activities.”
The PALs program is only open to juniors and seniors, and those who do an application. For Senior Morgan Zara, PALs has given her many good memories with the special education classes.
“Being with the special ed. class was my favorite moment,” Zara said. “We made really good friends with them and it was just really fun to hang out with them.”
Zara isn’t the only one to have this sentiment. Junior Katie Greene also feels her PAL program has impacted her and she hopes it does to others.
“Last year, in the classroom we played this game called ‘The Circle Game’ and we went around, got a sheet of questions, went around and answered them. It had us get really close with the class as a whole because we got to learn new things about different people like some were serious, our favorite song and just learned a lot about everybody,” Greene said.
PALs students show their support to the high school environment by putting their own time in participating in school events, supporting other student groups, performing community service, and working to promote a positive environment. PALs students also volunteer within the community by participating in the Mission Thanksgiving project, and facilitating the adoption of “Angel Tree” angels from the Salvation Army, where campus groups adopt children-in-need to fill wish lists of wants and needs.
“PALs has made me, and others, a better person just because we get to be with the kids plus our buddies, we like to take those experiences and put them in with other people,” Greene said. “PALs has made us feel like better versions of ourselves and has helped us communicate with others better.”