This year at Ukiah High School, a program called The Sibling Project has started connecting Ukiah High students with elementary students around Ukiah. The Sibling Project hopes to help elementary students socialize and succeed academically during the difficult time of distance learning.
Emma Dolan, Ukiah High School Senior, said that the Sibling Project is on a mission during quarantine: “The Sibling Project is about getting high school students paired up with younger kids in their district to help with their emotional and academic struggles with distance learning.”
Dolan explained the Sibling Project is a great way for younger students to connect with older students and get the social experiences that they need: “We want to provide them with a stronger support system to make up for losing classroom time.” Dolan said that The Sibling Project leaders were meeting with younger students through their elementary school teachers, providing the younger students an opportunity to socialize and get them on track with this year’s academics.
The Sibling Project works with students to help build more robust support systems and potentially make them feel more comfortable with schooling online this year. Especially during quarantine, it is essential to help younger children continue to have social activities to grow with those skills and do not fall behind. Dolan said, “the kids are missing out on a very important year of social development by being away from the classroom environment.”
For younger students, being in a physical classroom is a massive part of learning that they are being deprived of this year, and it is the Sibling Project’s goal to try and make up for a bit of the time they are losing in their social growth. ‘It is important to help them continue to socialize and form those skills regardless of the circumstances,” Dolan said.
While meeting via Zoom calls is not the same as meeting in person or a classroom, any little bit of social interaction can help students feel healthier, happier, and even more prepared as they face their days of online schooling.
Not only is it essential for the younger students, but it is also an excellent exercise for the older students of Ukiah High School to have. As we get deeper into the 2020 school year, The Sibling Project hopes that they can positively impact their students and truly make a difference in the younger generation in their community.