Big Brother Big Sisters joins with local schools to launch new program

Published 11:05 am Friday, September 8, 2023

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POLK COUNTY—Local nonprofit organization Big Brother Big Sister Polk and Rutherford counties is launching its ‘High School Big’s program this September. The initiative pairs high school juniors and seniors with elementary school students who could benefit from mentorship. 

The program has already attracted 11 students from Polk County High School and five from Lake Lure Classical Academy, according to Program Coordinator Jessica Toney. PCHS students are being matched with pupils from Tryon Elementary, Polk Central Elementary and Sunny View Elementary. 

Under the supervision of BBBS, the high school students will work one-on-one with their Little Brother or Little Sister for an hour each week to enhance their academic work, social and emotional skills. 

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Thanks to grant funding from Polk County Community Foundation, Toney has included STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) activity sets for the matches. The foundation also provided specific funding to help PCHS students offset a portion of their gas money while driving to elementary schools. 

“Lake Lure Classical was completely on board with partnering with BBBS in the High School Bigs program,” Toney said. “Their campus is K-12 and is the ideal set-up. The high schoolers can just walk to the elementary wing to meet with their Littles.” Funding from Rutherford County Endowment also enables Toney to provide STEM activity for Lake Lure Classical matches. 

“Children love the help and attention an older young person can give them,” Toney adds. “Having a high school student in your corner is just the coolest thing ever. The sooner a positive role model can be introduced into a child’s life, the bigger difference it will make.” 

Participation in the High School Big program counts as community service hours for many students and can also be an excellent way to enhance college applications.

“I am so excited to see these new friendships form and am curious what each student will personally gain at these two different stages in life,” Toney said.