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FHN students inspire young learners with SHIELD Program

FHN students inspire young learners with SHIELD Program

By: Jordan Glowczwski, CAPS Associate

High school students often lack awareness of available opportunities, sometimes discovering clubs of interest only in their senior year. 

Addressing this gap, Principal Jeffrey Fletcher of Francis Howell North High School (FHN) started a program. FHN students now visit three elementary schools to introduce younger students to the extracurricular activities awaiting them in high school.

The SHIELD Program is an acronym representing the traits that make someone a role model at FHN: Sportsmanship, Honesty, Integrity, Excellence, Leadership, and Determination. Each of the high school students is assigned a letter in the acronym to represent as they discuss their involvement.

“We are trying to establish a strong connection with our feeder elementary schools to get the younger students and their families excited to become Knights,” Fletcher said.

This is the second year FHN has organized this program, but now it is expanding from one elementary school to three.

“The visits consist of our student leaders interacting with all of the elementary students during lunch,” Fletcher said. “As they visit, they begin to make connections with the younger students and FHN.”

Mike Janes, the FHN activities director, played a significant role in organizing the event. “All of the high schoolers attended Harvest Ridge, so it's nice to come back and see the teachers,” Janes said. “We have 36 kids in the SHIELD Program, and then divide it into 12. We're at Henderson, Becky-Davidson, and Harvest Ridge.”

Each high schooler had custom-made baseball cards featuring a photo of them during their extracurricular activity, with the back featuring various general information about the student. The elementary students had the chance during lunch to collect all of the cards by talking to each high schooler.

Liza Burgos, an FHN student who has played golf on the varsity team for four years, represents Honesty in the SHIELD program. Burgos emphasizes the importance of academic honesty, as well as being honest about scores in golf. “It’s just hilarious. Random stories they tell you, and the cards brought it to a whole new level because they just love it,” Burgos said, describing her favorite part of the program.

Ava Miller, an FHN student heavily involved in robotics, was also selected for the SHIELD program. “I talked to them about why they should start taking STEM classes when they get to middle school,” Miller said. “And why science is a good way to get involved.”

Wyatt Hines, an FHN wrestler, represents Excellence. Hines explains to students the importance of hard work. “Doing everything to the best of your ability, just putting in all your work and not stopping. Not giving up,” Hines said.

Caleb Stephenson and Cole Castle are two elementary school students who sat together during one of the high school visits. “There are so many good cards,” Castle said. When asked which card was their favorite, both held up the card belonging to Derrick Warren, an FHN football player. “A lot of them play sports,” Castle said. “I want to play for a soccer team,” Stephenson said when asked what he wants to do in high school. “I want to be an artist, actually,” Castle said.

In time, Francis Howell hopes to expand this program throughout the district, but for this year, many consider it a success.