Fresno school program grooms leaders of tomorrow

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West Fresno Middle School 8th graders, who are part of the WEB Program, mentor younger students. (KFSN)

A southwest Fresno school district is getting ready to welcome its biggest 6th-grade class ever.

On Friday, the students got a taste of how different middle school will be from elementary school with the help of some fellow students.

Students at West Fresno Middle School are getting excited for the next school year.

The fun-filled orientation event hopes to motivate the incoming 6th graders while also getting them more familiar with their new school.

Plus, the event provides community service hours for 8th graders who are part of the WEB Leadership Program

"Where everybody belongs is the program," principal Lucio Cortez said. "This is our fourth year doing it and we've seen a major culture change here at West Fresno Middle School."

The changes include lower disciplinary numbers.

The 8th graders who are part of the WEB Program mentor the 6th graders. After getting into fun costumes, the older kids give them a tour of the campus and some tips for going to middle school.

"I think it's important to make them feel welcome so when they come here on the first day of school they don't have to feel nervous," 8th grader Miriam Roque said. "They could come to us and see our shirts and everything and they know already that we're there for them."

Miriam said they're happy to help the 6th graders because not too long ago they were in the same position.

The WEB Leaders say going through this type of orientation when they were about to start middle school really helped them a lot.

"I was scared I was like what if the 8th graders are mean, what if the 7th graders are bullies so I want to be able to show them that 7th and 8th graders we're just like them but we're just in a higher grade," 8th grader Tiaa Bland. "So, I want to show them that we're welcoming."

Cortez says creating a happy campus starts with great student leaders.

"Our WEB Leaders do a really good job just setting the tone, the support and these WEB Leaders are going to meet with our 6th graders the whole entire year to provide tutoring or just guide them in the process," he said.

Washington Unified School District kicks off the new school year on August 15.

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