Women’s Studies students empower middle schoolers through the Voice Program


Story by Emma DeLaRosa and Nicole Haberek

On Friday, October 18th, Mrs. Houle’s Women’s Studies class took its first trip to West Vine Street School to start The Voice. The Voice is a mentoring program in which Mrs. Houle and her Women’s Studies class goes to West Vine Street School and talks to the current fifth-graders about the problems they are facing currently in middle school. The Women’s Studies class will be going to West Vine once every two weeks to do The Voice.

Last Friday, the high schoolers focused on why empathy, sympathy, and perspective-taking are important traits to have not only during middle school but for the rest of your life. The high schoolers shared their personal experiences with the fifth graders on times in middle school that they thought someone could have had more empathy and sympathy towards them. The fifth graders also shared times where they were empathetic or sympathetic towards someone or when someone was empathetic and sympathetic towards them.

Bullying is an important topic to talk about with middle schoolers because that is where it happens the most. The high schoolers also shared personal experiences about times they have been bullied and how it affected them. During The Voice, the high schoolers want to try and mentor the fifth-graders on how they can stop bullying and make school a better place for everyone. They will also be focusing on other issues such as self-esteem issues and problems with friends.

Mrs. Houle is very passionate about this program and thinks it is a great opportunity for not only the fifth-graders but also the high schoolers involved. She says, “The kids love the high schoolers and they look up to them. A lot of these kids have problems that they don’t talk about and our goal is to get them to open up and for them to know that they are not alone and that they have people to talk to. It is a very rewarding experience.”

While the focus was on empathy, sympathy, and perspective-taking for the first day, future sessions will focus on different things and go more in-depth into the fifth grader’s feelings. The program is a very beneficial experience for getting the kids to open up.

The middle school students also have goals that they want their class to work on, such as being understanding of each other’s issues and emotions. The high schoolers will incorporate the concerns of the fifth graders in the Voice program to ensure that they feel heard.