By Kelly Gourrier ’19
The Big Sibs program has operated for seven years with the goal of helping new seventh graders integrate into the school community. With last year’s addition of eighth graders into the program, Sibs has grown to 275 total members this year.
Student advisers matched incoming seventh graders with an eighth or ninth grader based on common interests. Around six of these smaller sets were then assigned to a larger group. The team leaders oversaw all the Sib meetings and worked with the head of the program, Rabbi Emily Feigenson, to plan activities.
“The primary purpose of the program is to enable seventh graders to learn that older students, eighth and ninth graders, are friendly and supportive and not scary….Since there’s been Sibs, there hasn’t been that coldness. The other thing I’ve seen is that many ninth graders gain insight into how much they’ve matured since seventh grade. They get a new perspective on themselves,” Feigenson said.
Each Big Sib meeting took place on the first four Fridays of the school year during break. In the first gathering held on Sept. 4, participants got to know their Sibs and talked about school. The second meeting on Sept. 11 consisted of board games and more bonding time.
“Sibs helps seventh graders feel comfortable at Harvard-Westlake. It’s nice to have time to get to know some of the older kids and feel comfortable with people in every grade on the campus. It also helps the seventh graders meet people who they might not otherwise get a chance to get to know. As well as all of these things, it’s just fun,” advisor Anja Clark ’19 said.
On Sept. 25, Sibs participated in a field day comprised of activities such as bocce ball and a parachute cooperative. An optional Wink-or-Blink game is planned to be the closing event of Sibs.
According to Feigenson, working with the advisers is the best part of Sibs.
“I’m really doing programming that has nothing to do with grades, nothing to do with memorizing anything. The primary purpose is to create a setting of fun….friendly fun,” Feigenson said.
The number of Sibs has risen since eighth graders were allowed to become Big Sibs. This addition occurred in order to develop the experience of the ninth grade advisers by giving them an opportunity to be a Big Sib before becoming a team leader.
“I think it’s a really cool way to meet an older student, and it’s great if you have questions about Harvard-Westlake,” little sib Lexie Warlick ’21 said.