New Bern HS students start program to make new students feel welcome

NEW BERN, NC (WNCT) – Military families relocate 10 times more often than civilian families and they move about every 2 to 3 years. One student at New Bern High School knows how hard it is to transition from place to place, especially in high school.

“I’ve moved ten times, I’ve been to 14 schools, and three different high schools,” New Bern High School senior Mariah Warner said. “As a military kid, I felt it was my obligation to help other military kids.”

A couple months into her time at New Bern Warner and a friend started Bear B.R.A.T.Z. to help new students adjust. Mentors walk the new students to class, give them tours, sit with them at lunch, and provide a helping hand.

New Bern High School freshman Johanna Atney is part of the club and said, “It made it a lot easier and I felt more welcomed.”

“A lot of those kids knew what it was like to be the new kid so they were just really really nice to me,” New Bern High School junior Avery Davis said.

Now, some of the people who went through the program are mentors themselves.

“I learned where the classes are, what teachers are good, and I learn pretty quickly so I’m trying to help the kids are new,” Davis said.

The name Bear B.R.A.T.Z. describes the kind of people these students are.

“Built rough and tough, students who are military background and affiliated they go through a lot of stuff and they have built into resilient individuals,” Warner said.

The program was so successful they started another one just like it, New Bears Club. It’s open to anyone, not just kids from military families.

Mentors who are a part of the club say it’s a joy to give back.

“I felt the need to help other students overcome different adversities like coming here from another school,” Senior Tyler Toohey said.

Warner wants the program to continue to grow even after she graduates.

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