Photo: Joanne Haner

Ambassadors assist in acclimating new students

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The first day of school can be tough for anyone, especially for new students. For this reason, the Ambassador Program was created in 2007 by Upper School principal Mrs. Elise Blum and Junior High vice principal Ms. Melissa Becerra.

“The Ambassador Program is a leadership program where eighth to twelfth graders have an opportunity to participate in activities that help our new students, our new families, and programs that help the American Heritage population,” Ms. Jody Schiller, the current head of the High School Ambassador Program, said.

Ambassadors are often the first faces new students see on campus, making the Ambassador position an important role that must be filled by the right type of student; thus, Ms. Schiller searches for the right person in her selection process. Ms. Schiller looks for students who are outgoing, reliable, trustworthy and kind, in addition to demonstrating strong leadership skills when selecting ambassadors.

“[Ambassadors are] responsible for activities that help new students and families and are involved with other leadership programs throughout the year such as Orientation, Open House and Back to School night,” Ms. Schiller said. A benefit of being an ambassador is that a student earns hours for his or her service while helping new students find their way.

“I really enjoy being an ambassador,” sophomore Ashley Affolter, who has been an ambassador since eighth grade, said. “Not only is it nice to be able to help students who are coming in feel welcome, but it’s nice to interact with people you may not have normally gotten a chance to. I met one of my now best friends through the ambassador program.”

Since hundreds of new students enroll each year, there needs to be an army of ambassadors ready to engage the newcomers. Every ambassador is assigned a handful of students for the year. “Each year we have had between 50 and 70 ambassadors,” Ms. Schiller said.

Students are first eligible to become ambassadors in eighth grade. A student can become an ambassador in two ways. “A student is invited to become a Student Ambassador at the end of the school year by either serving successfully the year before or being recommended by a teacher,” Ms. Schiller said. “Some students inquire about the program and fill out an application to be reviewed by teachers, guidance and administration.”

As for students looking to participate in the Ambassador Program, Affolter shares encouraging words. “I would recommend it to anyone who likes talking to and helping people. Kids that are coming into a new school need to feel welcome and being the one to help them adjust means a lot and is so rewarding,” Affolter said.

Kristen is a junior at American Heritage School in Plantation, Fla. She is Vice President of Student Government, an officer of the Pre-Law Society, News Editor and Assistant Editor-in-Chief of The Patriot Post and co-founder of the non-profit Friends for Fosters. Kristen loves keeping up with politics, watching Netflix, reading and sleeping in. She considers herself a nerd due to her massive video game and comic collection.

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