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Norwalk Spear

Norwalk Spear

Changing the culture of high school

Upperclass students take the lead in new MVP program
Gabby Bussanmas
Junior Allie Soukup writes in her notebook during 4th period in January 2024. Soukup is a mentor involved in the MVP program at Norwalk High School.

Junior Allie Soukup said she wanted to talk about topics involving gender equality when facilitating lessons in her freshman warrior time, as an MVP mentor.

“One of the main things that I want to talk about if I go into it is sexism, and how different people are discriminated [against] solely because [of] their gender,” said Soukup. “And I think it’s important to know how derogatory comments can affect someone.”

Soukup is a first-time mentor in the MVP program at Norwalk High School this school year.

MVP is a second-year program at Norwalk High School. MVP is a program where upper-class students go into freshman warrior times to explore hard topics like domestic violence and bullying and create new connections between grades.

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Juniors and seniors are paired into groups and assigned to a freshman warrior time for the year to facilitate these lessons in various forms.

“The purpose of MVP is to really change the culture of the high school,” said Kari Drymon, a school counselor at Norwalk High School, who manages the MVP program.

Soukup went on to say that MVP’s goal is to not only change the high school culture but also build connections between upper-class and lower-class students, which typically doesn’t happen as often due to various reasons.

“I think it helps to establish different relationships and let them [freshmen] know they’re more accepted in the community,” said Soukup.

Along with creating new connections and trying to change the culture in the high school, Mariah Brown, an English teacher at NHS, said MVP was about the new experiences it brings to the junior and senior mentors and the freshmen in MVP warrior times.

“To help students develop the skills helpful to intervene in cases of violence [mentees] and offer students an opportunity to facilitate and lead others [mentors],” said Brown.

However, being an MVP mentor is still a job that requires some training to facilitate topics effectively and accurately. Brown said MVP mentors are for students who want to work on their leadership qualities.

“Being an MVP mentor means the upperclassmen student exhibits strong leadership qualities,” Brown said. “They must have strong management skills, professionalism, and a commitment to share heavy, important topics with peers.”

While MVP is a newer program at NHS, many agreed that while it’s an important program, it still has room for improvement.

“I would like to see more helping the mentors know like how to involve students more, how to have classroom management, how to facilitate a conversation without just reading from the screen or staring at their phones,” said Drymon. “And actually having a genuine conversation back and forth.”

To get involved with MVP, get in contact with Drymon in your counselors’ offices at NHS for more information on joining the MVP program.

Overall Soukup said that MVP was a positive program that could benefit Norwalk High School students, by provoking change in the way students handle certain situations and topics.

“It helps to create a better culture and a better attitude around different topics,” said Soukup.

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About the Contributor
Gabby Bussanmas
Gabby Bussanmas, Staff Writer
Gabby Bussanmas is a junior at NHS and first-semester journalism student. Bussanmas is interested in reading and writing, especially about social issues and new laws. She is involved in school groups such as MVP, and is the second youngest of seven siblings. “It’s definitely weird because I’m going to be one of the last ones to leave the house,” she said. Bussanmas said she is not originally from Iowa. “I’m actually from Louisiana, I lived there for 12 years,” she said. “I like having all four seasons, I love snow and hate the heat.” Bussanmas is considering a career in journalism, and sees The Spear as a way to learn about the topic. “I’m interested in trying to become a journalist, this could be a good start to see if I like it,” she said.
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