Big Brothers Big Sisters opens enrollment for High School Bigs program

Published 11:57 am Thursday, March 28, 2024

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POLK COUNTY—The Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) of Polk and Rutherford counties have recently opened enrollment for the upcoming school year’s High School Bigs program. 

The program currently serves three of Polk County’s schools: Polk County High, Polk Central Elementary and Sunny View Elementary. In the fall, it will add students at Saluda Elementary. The program also serves Lake Lure Classical Academy. 

High school students aged 16 and over are eligible to enroll in BBBS’ After-School Program as Bigs. Interested applicants will need to submit an application form and a parent permission form. The program aims to enhance Little Brothers and Sisters’ academic work and social and emotional skills through one-on-one mentoring sessions with high school students. The high school Bigs work with their Littles for an hour each week, focusing on academics for 30 minutes and social and emotional skills through fun activities for the remaining 30 minutes. 

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The program began with 11 Polk County High School students and five students from Lake Lure Classical Academy. At the end of the school year, all High School Bigs and their Littles will receive a certificate of completion. If the Big is a senior, they will also receive honor cords for graduation. 

Program Coordinator Jessica Toney has also included STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) activity sets for the matches thanks to grant funding from Polk County Community Foundation. The foundation has also provided specific funding to help PCHS students offset a portion of their gas money while driving to elementary schools. Funding from Rutherford County Endowment enables Toney to provide STEM activity for Lake Lure Classical matches. The High School Big program counts as community service hours for many students and can also be an excellent way to enhance college applications. 

“Children love the help and attention an older young person can give them,” Toney says. “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.” 

BBBS Polk/Rutherford has grown significantly over the past year. In January  2023, the program served 18 kids, and now it serves 46 kids, with 20 still waiting for a Big Brother or Big Sister. 

Another new focus of Big Brothers Big Sisters is mental health. The program will soon offer more mental health training for all Bigs. BBBS has partnered with United Way for some of its staff, and Toney was selected to attend training and become an instructor of the mental health curriculum. 

“Mental health has always been a huge platform for me, and I am excited and honored to take this training and educate the Bigs in my program,” said Toney. 

If you are interested in becoming a high school Big for the upcoming school year or a Big Brother or Big Sister, please visit the website to enroll or contact Program Coordinator Jessica Toney at or call 828-429-7626.