By MARGARET WAAGE
There was a lot of cheering going on Tuesday evening when Plainville Middle School hosted Mentor Fun Night.
It was hard to tell which contributed more to the evening’s festivities, the warm weather or the participants’ enthusiasm because everyone was getting into the act and having fun. The event had previously been scheduled for March 19, but cold temperatures caused a postponement and the April turnout was successful. About 46 people attended with families watching on.
“The purpose of the get together is to celebrate the special relationship between the mentors and mentees,” said Sue Bradley, volunteer program coordinator for the Plainville schools. During the course of the school year, children work with a mentor and that time is unique for each student. “They build a wonderful friendship during their visits at the school, but this night is a special time they can connect, and enjoya team building experience. It’s also a nice way for the mentors to meet their mentees families, and for the families to meet the mentor their child talks about each week,” said Bradley.
Students can have a mentor beginning in grade school, and that bond can remain intact right up to and including high school.
Mentors joined with their mentee students to form four teams. Each team played five different games as they rotated through the gymnasium. “The ‘Maze’ game is made up of brightly colored squares where the player has to learn the correct sequence of steps. “This game really emphasizes problem-solving, memorization and relies heavily on guidance from the team,” said Amy Tennant, the Middle School Physical Ed teacher, who assisted with running the activities.
The rules of The Maze are that no talking is allowed, and everyone had to pay careful attention to the direction of Jeri Turkowitz, the mentor liaison at Linden School and school psychologist in Plainville. Turkowitz gives thumb’s up when the player steps in the right direction, or thumb’s down if the player takes a misstep. There was a specific “right’ path to take, and as each member of the team attempted the maze, through repetition, they master the path.
The evening was also a night of recognition to the years of service the mentors have. All the mentors were given yellow roses by their mentees, and two long-standing mentors, the 2011-2012 Mentor of the Year, Dave Barry (who celebrated his 20th year), and Bill Calder (a past Mentor of the Year, who celebrated 22 years) were congratulated.
Foster White, a three-year mentor, has been selected as this year’s Mentor of the Year and will be recognized at a Volunteer Recognition Dinner May 7. White also serves on the Board of Education. White said he has mentored the same student for three years and helps him with bike safety, homework and game playing.