By Reagan Scott
LINCOLN (SNR) - Now in its second year, the Ambassador program at Pius X High School in Lincoln has been working to ensure that all students are welcomed into the Pius community as members of the Body of Christ.
The mission of the Ambassador program is to create a kind and welcoming school environment where everybody is appreciated and valued because they are a child of God, according to the Pius website.
“We had talked for a while about making sure every kid felt welcome, but it was mostly Mrs. Frayser’s brain child,” guidance counselor Shelly Pick said of guidance director Jan Frayser.
The group began its inaugural year with approximately 130 students. In its second year, the group has grown to 190 students and counting. Anyone who wants to join the Ambassador program is invited to do so at any time.
With such a large group of students, meetings are broken up to make them more manageable. Smaller group meetings are held twice a month and meetings with all members are held once a quarter.
At the smaller group sessions, students are given the tools they need to respond to classmates who may struggle with physical disabilities or depression.
“We also discuss cyber bullying and give students the skills to address it,” Pick said.
The larger group settings are no less important, however.
Pick said, “In the larger groups we are teaching leadership skills and teaching how to intervene. The student has to decide if they want to intervene or get help, it’s solely based on comfort.”
The guidance counselors recognize that many bullying problems these days often happen where adults can’t monitor the situation, especially when it comes to the internet.
“Here at Pius we don’t have an environment where bullying is noticeable; it’s quiet stuff only the kids know about. We’re teaching them to be more aware,” Pick said. “Now, the students take charge right away and handle it.”
Welcoming new students and appreciating cultural diversity are other important goals for the Ambassador program.
The Ambassadors also do their best to include many students in the Pius Community who may have disabilities or face their own personal challenges, and many of them are actually a part of the Ambassador program themselves.
Anne Cassidy, a senior diagnosed with Asperger syndrome, has been a part of the Ambassador program since its inception.
“I feel that Ambassadors is a really good program,” Cassidy said. “I am very introverted and making friends is hard for me. It has helped me come out of my shell toward others. I help others the way I would want them to help me.”
A lot of time and effort goes into making sure that all students’ needs are accounted for before they begin school at Pius.
Often a parent or one of Pius’s feeder schools will let the office or Pius’s academic success coordinator, Raina Volkmer, know if their child or student has a situation that must be accounted for.
“Before a student walks in the door, hours of meetings are held to make sure everything is being done to meet their needs,” Pick said.
The Ambassadors are always eager to help out and respond to the necessities of their fellow classmates.
“If we know of a need, we try to partner an Ambassador with a student,” guidance counselor Connie Freudenberg said.
For Cassidy, her motivation is simple: “I just remember to treat people the way I would like to be treated.”
The Ambassadors program has taught many students a great lesson about reaching out, and seeing Christ in all people.
“I want to do what I can to make the world a better place and I do what I can at my own high school,” Cassidy said. “Ambassadors has prepared me for the real world. There are so many dark and cruel people out there. We have to be bright towards others. It just shows us that there are diamonds in the rough.”