Forming reliable relationships

Aug. 17, 2016 marked the first day on the job for 153 Seniors with a special goal: to foster a unique friendship with Jesuit High School’s incoming Freshmen. That day was Freshman Orientation, the first official day of this year’s Big Brother Program.

The program has been active for 28 years, and in that time, it has sought to introduce Freshmen to life at Jesuit and to give them an experience of peer support. The ultimate goal is to make each Freshman feel welcome, through the care and support of Senior Big Brothers.

“Our biggest hope [is] for Freshmen to feel a part of the brotherhood, to get them fired up and wanting to live the brotherhood,” said Mr. Paul Leboeuf, Director of Campus Ministry.

This goal is accomplished through several events that focus on the Freshmen to make them feel at home.

It begins with phone calls from Big Brothers to Freshmen as introduction, continues at Frosh Orientation, becomes manifest during the first two weeks of school, and then culminates during Frosh Overnight.

The hope is for Freshmen to make lasting friendships within their graduating class and with the Seniors who elected to spend so much time with them.

Thanks largely to this system and the people behind it, Jesuit’s incoming Freshmen are acclimating to high school life at an impressive pace.

Zach Williams ‘17 and his Little Brother Eric Johannessen ‘20 are an example of the closeness that can come about through the Big Brother program. They became friends early on when Zach called Eric prior to Orientation.

Before Orientation Day, I already felt like I knew Zach since he had reached out to me on the phone beforehand,” Eric said.

According to Eric, it was little things Zach did that mattered. His simple hospitality during Frosh Overnight and care during conversations earned Zach Eric’s trust. Despite having three Little Brothers, Zach worked hard to make individual time for each of them.

“I did my best to get one on one time with all of my Little Brothers, to pay attention to them individually,” said Zach. “I really wanted them to feel welcome and secure in themselves and at Jesuit.”

If Zach and his little brother are an indication, this approach goes over quite well with the Freshmen. It helps them to know that Seniors, the veterans on campus, care for them. This effect is a big part of why the program is so effective.

The program will continue over the course of the year, as Big Brothers continue to reach out to their Little Brothers to form reliable relationships parallel to the one between Zach and Eric.