Step-Up Mentor Program gives girls bathrooms a makeover at Happy Valley Middle School

Published 8:56 am Thursday, March 12, 2020

Bathrooms at Happy Valley Middle School have gotten a makeover thanks to the Step-Up Mentoring Program.

The program began last year with Emily Schumpert, a fifth grade science teacher at the school, who wanted to help fifth grade girls transition into middle school with the aid of sixth graders.

“It’s a hard transition going from fourth grade elementary school into fifth grade middle school,” she said. “So our idea was if we partnered some of the fifth grade girls with the sixth grade girls, that it would help with that transition.”

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Schumpert said the idea came for the group after researching mentoring groups and hearing from a friend at another middle school who had a similar group. She said that the goal for the program is to continue and build over the years with students.

Several of the girls in the group, Kaylen Dover, Keturah Richardson, Addyson Holt, Haylee Freeman and Mackenzie Skeans, described it as a mentorship the sixth grade girls provide for the fifth grade girls as a way of showing them what to expect as well as being able to do fun activities that help the community.

Money raised for the bathrooms came from hosting a Christmas school dance where the girls sold concessions, helped with games, took pictures with a photo booth, etc. Once money was raised, a meeting was held where the girls worked in groups to determine materials needed for the project and also plan themes. After the meeting, the girls got approval from the principal for themes and new items they wanted to include.

After planning and approvals were met, the girls spent the weekend working on the bathrooms, first cleaning, then painting and decorating for their desired themes. Decorations included stars, inspirational quotes and even new mirrors. The girls worked for a total of 10 hours.

When describing their involvement in the project itself and joining the group a consensus was that they wanted to raise school spirit and improve the quality of the school. Additionally, the girls enjoyed the teamwork and time spent together while working on the bathrooms.

For their next project, the girls plan on fixing bathrooms in the school’s gymnasium, which are used by students during school hours and also the public during sporting events. The theme for these bathrooms will be school focused. While there is no current group for the boys, Schumpert said she may work towards having a student council in the future for boys and girls. Likewise, if the girls do get to the boys bathrooms in the future, input from boys will be involved.

“The girls have loved this group, they really have,” Schumpert said. “They have bonded really well as a group. We have meetings every other week. We’ve been planning for this project, our dance, we’ve gone on a project. Just all sorts of things where they spend time together and with their mentor too.”