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Higley Middle Schools Adopt “Where Everybody Belongs” Program

New faces and new places.

Starting a new school is never easy, but Cooley and Sossaman Middle Schools in Higley Unified School District launched a program this year to ease the transition.

Where Everybody Belongs (WEB) is a program that allows incoming middle school students to receive guidance and mentorship from older middle school students.

WEB is the middle school version of Link Crew, which is offered at both Higley and Williams Field High Schools in the Higley Unified School District. Link Crew members provide mentorship and consultation to incoming freshmen students through regular meetings and events.

At the middle school, WEB will help students develop friendships and feel comfortable in the new, sometimes overwhelming environment they are in. While younger students transition into middle school life, WEB also aims to grow leadership skills in older students and help them to become influencers of good.

Sossaman eighth-graders Laci Degner and Bre Williams-Lockhart said they enjoy the program so far and everything it has to offer. They said they love getting to be leaders and help people make friends.

“[WEB] lets students meet people before school and not be totally alone,” Degner said.

Sossaman teacher and WEB program leader Haleigh Rohner helped implement and lead the program this summer and is very excited for all that WEB has to offer. Being new to the WEB program, Rohner admits that it is still a learning process, but that she is very impressed with it so far.

Seventh graders at each school spent all or part of a day with their older mentors in July. Sossaman welcomed students the week before classes. Cooley held an event just after the start of school. At both campuses, students took part in ice breaker activities, along with campus tours. Older students also shared what it takes to be successful in middle school and offered tips to the younger students on planning strategies and making goals.

These activities allowed seventh-grade students to feel comfortable and develop a relationship with their eighth-grade mentors, program leaders said.

“This orientation was meant to kick off the school year with a fun and positive experience while getting students to think about their approach to middle school and being successful on campus,” Cooley WEB Program Leader and school counselor Shannon Alexander said.

Cooley eighth-grader student Jeremiah Rabago views the WEB program as an amazing learning and social experience.

“WEB is a way for me to help out seventh graders and take a mentoring role,” Rabago said.

As far as Alexander is concerned, the Higley Unified School District is just getting started with WEB. She believes the program will continue to grow and looks forward to seeing the opportunities the program presents.

“We want to have two WEB (student) leaders for every eight to 10 students and a set plan for future years,” Alexander said.