Ryan Pritchard never thought he’d go to college.
In fact, the rising senior at Dawson County High School planned to get out of high school as soon as he could, even if that meant quitting before graduation.
His attitude changed last year when he discovered the mentoring program, which offers an ongoing support system, available at the high school.
“There’s always someone to talk to there,” Pritchard said. “I don’t just go for the 25 minutes. I stay after and talk about problems that could be worked on.”
Bindy Auvermann, executive director of the Dawson County Mentoring Program, hears stories like Pritchard’s everyday, especially at the high school level, where the program has seen overwhelming growth in the last year.
“Girls and guys bring in their boyfriends or girlfriends that have been in it for a while,” Auvermann said. “This is extra support they need.”
Cassie Everett, a 10th grader who transferred to Crossroads in order to graduate early, describes the program as “a safe-haven” and full of “opportunities, because they open many, many doors.”
“Without them I would not have gotten up and probably done half I’ve been able to do,” she said.
For ninth grader Sam Greenway, the program opened her eyes “to so many things that some people have never taught me before.”
“I’ve met some real friends, I’m more social than I was and I’m better at my grades,” she said.
Troubles in middle school led Megan Welch to the program when she entered high school.
Now over two years later, the 11th grader speaks openly about the impact mentoring has had in her life.
“Now, I walk in the hallways as an 11th grader and I don’t just look at people, but I see them for who they are, and I don’t just talk to people, but I actually listen so I can try to help them with whatever I can,” Welch said. “I know that as long as I’m willing to ask for help, that the mentor group will always help me with anything.”
Unlike mentoring in elementary and middle schools where mentors work one on one with students, high school students in the program meet for about an hour each week during tutorial time to have group talks and private sessions with guidance mentors to work on life skills and college placement.
The group also works on projects together and takes field trips designed to broaden their horizons and open doors.
“After a group trip to UGA, I have every intention of going to college and graduating college,” Pritchard said.