Positive Panther Pals help new students


Picture courtesy of Michelle Zuo

Ashley Chen, eighth-grader on the Voyagers Team, holds up her Panther Pal nomination certificate.

The club Panther Pals has been restarted here at Rachel Carson Middle School to help new students get situated in their new school. 

Karla Chustz and Elizabeth Schires, counselors at Rachel Carson Middle School, decided to restart the Panther Pals club with the first club meeting on Feb. 24.

“In this club, a group of students from each team will help new students get used to the school environment and give them tours,” said Ms. Chustz.

Any new students who join the school will be assigned a Panther Pal that will give them tours, show them to their classes, and sit with them at lunch for a couple days. 

“We have to show them around to all their classes so they remember where to go and tell them where teacher offices are in case they have questions,” said Ashley Chen, an eighth-grader on the Voyagers Team.

Not only will they show them their classes but also other major places located in the school.

“I’ll show them the bathrooms in case of emergencies and places like the gym, cafeteria, and library,” said Ashley.  

The new Panther Pals have been thinking about how this club will not only help new students but also themselves. 

“It’ll help with social skills and meeting new people,” said Shaurya Ahuja, an eighth-grader on the Explorers Team.  

Many agree with this point of view.

“I definitely think this club will help me in the future,” said Ashley, “because it helps with dealing with new people and it develops friendships.”

According to Ms. Chustz, RCMS has been doing clubs like these over the past years.

 “Carson has been doing this on and off for years,” said Ms. Chustz. 

There have also been clubs like this, but under different names.

 “Pre-covid, there were student ambassadors,” said Ms. Schires. 

Ms. Chustz first started with nominating students from each team to be Panther Pals.

“Ms. Chustz reached out to all teams and shared with them what kind of criteria there was,” said Ms. Schires. “We asked for reliable and dependable students.”

According to both counselors, nominated students have been cautiously curious but enthusiastic about the new club.

Panther Pals were also able to talk about their personal stories of being a new student and how it felt.

“I’ve moved many times, so I know what it’s like to be new to someplace, and it’s really nerve racking,” said Ashley. “I feel like if you have someone to talk to and to help you, it can help with stress and the feeling of knowing someone’s got your back.”