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Borah Elementary in search of adult mentors

Just one hour a week with an adult mentor can make a huge difference in a child’s life, according to David Hunt, a counselor at Borah Elementary School.

Hunt is on the board of directors of Big Brothers/Big Sisters of North Idaho, and played an integral role in bringing to Borah “Bigs in School,” the school-based program of BBBSNI. Four years ago, Hunt and Joel Palmer, the former principal at Borah, wrote a grant to pay for bringing the program to the school. The grant funded a volunteer from AmeriCorps, called a Volunteer in Service to America. Ruth Rahimi, the current AmeriCorps VISTA, is in charge of the school program.

“The hardest thing to do is to recruit volunteers, so I’ve started a task force to recruit male volunteers,” Rahimi said. She said that men tend to volunteer more for tasks like volunteer fire departments, rather than social services.

Rahimi said that men don’t realize how much they are needed. “The child who has one adult mentor who follows them has a better chance of success in life,” Rahimi said.

She said it is easy for kids to drift the wrong way. Mentoring is one thing that they know works. Volunteers are required to submit to a background test and fingerprinting, which can be done at the Kootenai County Sheriff’s Office at no cost to the volunteer.

A “Big” is the adult who spends just one hour a week with a “Little,” who has been identified as a child who would benefit from an adult mentor other than their parent or parents. Typically the Big comes and spends the lunch hour with their Little and spends some social time with them on the playground.

“It’s amazing the impact it has on these kids,” Hunt said. “Some of them respond so quickly to that positive adult reinforcement. They need an adult who has time for them.”

Hunt said the No. 1 qualification for the Big is to have “a little bit of time and room in your heart.”

He said they have identified about a dozen kids – half boys and half girls – at Borah who could benefit from a Big right now.

The Borah population has quite a few kids in single-parent homes, foster homes, or families struggling with poverty issues, Hunt said. The program has some wonderful mentors now, including a Lear jet pilot who was matched up with a boy who lives with his mom. The boy’s dad is far away, so he needed a good male role model.

“Kids need heroes on a local level,” Hunt said. “These mentors become heroes to these kids.”

Patty Woodworth, the principal at Hayden Meadows Elementary, came to the area from Kalispell, Mont., last summer. Woodworth is also on the board of BBBSNI and is very keen on expanding the lunchtime mentoring program, which they called “Lunch Pail Pals” at her school in Kalispell. She said there were 40 mentors spread among the five elementary schools in Kalispell, and there are about 11 spread throughout the 10 Coeurd’Alene and Hayden area elementary schools.

“All schools have children who need appropriate adult role models,” Woodworth said. “They don’t have to be in a low socioeconomic area.”

Woodworth received special training in the SEARCH Institute, a nonprofit group that “conducts research, develops publications and provides technical assistance that supports the healthy development of all children and adolescents.” Woodworth said that at least five of the SEARCH assets apply to Bigs. They are: being in another adult relationship, having another adult role model, a caring school climate, interpersonal confidence through building friendship with this other adult, and they feel the community values them more.

Woodworth said she knows she can make matches. Among her volunteers in Kalispell were police officers, the mayor and the city manager. They made the time for a child. She said, given all the fund-raisers, it’s evident the Coeur d’Alene-area community cares about education. Hunt said that some of the mentoring relationships have continued to follow the Little to middle school. Several Bigs have kept the relationship going through the community-based BBBSNI program.

“Influence can only be built through relationships,” Hunt said.

If you can give an hour a week to become a Big, call Ruth Rahimi at 667-0975.

NIC Math Contest

North Idaho College Math Department held its 23rd Annual Math Contest Nov. 9 for area high school students. Lake City High School, Lakeland High, Post Falls, Sandpoint, Kootenai, Potlatch, St. Maries, Timberlake, Troy High School, Coeur d’Alene Charter Academy and Post Falls Christian Academy were all represented. The students were drilled in algebra, geometry, trigonometry, calculus, probability and the math of computers and logic.

The schools were separated by seniors and nonseniors in two divisions - large school, Division I, and small school, Division II.

First place in Division I teams went to Sandpoint, followed by Lake City in second and Lakeland in third.

In Division II teams, Coeur d’Alene Charter Academy took first place, followed by St. Maries, and Timberlake Jr./Sr. High.

In individual standings, first place for Division I seniors went to Anna Jacobs of Sandpoint High, followed by Bryan Klein of Lake City High and Cora Stoner of Sandpoint High in third .

In Division II seniors, first place went to Daniel Smit of St. Maries High School, followed by Eli Berg-Maas of Coeur d’Alene Charter Academy and Brandon Morton of Timberlake.

Morgan Bell of Lakeland came in first in Division I nonseniors, followed by Wes Sebring of Lake City and Maryann Tekverk also of Lake City.

In Division II nonsenior, first place was awarded to Jeanne Lee of Coeur d’Alene Charter Academy, followed by Julian Lemke also from the Academy, and third place went to Lloyd Grubham of Kootenai.

UI Women in Engineering Day

University of Idaho College of Engineering hosted approximately 40 high school students Nov. 12 during the Women in Engineering Day. The high school women came from 21 high schools across the state.

Representatives from North Idaho high schools were Jenny Durrin, Sandra Lopez and Morgan Maiolie of Timberlake High School; Katie Eby of Bonners Ferry High School; Alissa Cleo French and Megan Mecham of Moscow High School; Ashley Hobbs of Post Falls High School; Melissa Pongrac, Amanda Arp, Brienna Hammond and Alexandra Olsen of Lakeland High School; and Tristin Baldwin and Miriam Thompson of Sandpoint High School.

The students had access to student laboratories and student organizations such as the Society of Women Engineers and had discussions with current women engineering majors as well as faculty and professionals.

Women and minorities are currently underrepresented in all engineering fields.

Students of the Month

Timberlake High School has announced its Sudents of the Mnth for October.

Freshman Jamie Brennan enjoys playing volleyball and basketball, horseback riding and creating short films with her friends.

Sophomore Kala Allred is on the honor roll, the volleyball and softball teams and was selected to the All-League team for softball.

Junior Jenny Durrin is a member of Idaho Drug-Free Youth, the Honor Society, is the editor-in-chief of Timberlake’s award-winning newspaper the “Tiger Tells,” and she has a 4.0 grade-point average. She enjoys playing softball, horseback riding, karate and the piano.

Senior Amelia Petersen plays the violin and enjoys hiking, hunting, fishing, photography and spending time with her family.

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