RHINELANDER - Beginning class at a new school can be stressful. But two new programs in the Rhinelander School District might help with that.
This is the first year James Williams Middle School and Rhinelander High School will host programs called WEB and Link Crew, respectively.
Both programs pair incoming students with upperclassmen who will mentor them throughout the years. Eighth graders at the middle school will mentor sixth graders, and juniors and seniors will mentor freshmen at the high school.
The purpose is to create a bond between students and strengthen the school community.
"We know that in order to build a community you have to have this sense of belonging, and so they're really at the forefront of creating that sense of belonging, changing the culture for us here at the high school," said Link Crew coordinator Kari Strebig.
Students will meet with their mentors multiple times throughout the year both in and out of school.
The programs don't just benefit the mentees, but the mentors as well.
"[The mentors] benefit from it because we teach them skills in leadership and we actually help walk them though what it means to be a leader, what it looks like to be a leader, how to take initiative to make our school a better place," said WEB coordinator Kayla Goranson.
The mentors were chosen from many different backgrounds and demographics so each student can relate to their mentors. The programs provide the mentees with something their teachers cannot.
"As a teacher, a classroom teacher, I can say some of the things that will come from our leaders until I'm blue in the face, but it will never be as powerful as when it comes from the leaders themselves, from their peers," said Link Crew coordinator Kelsey Thompson.