Goodwill Ambassadors

By on September 25, 2019

Goodwill Ambassadors WHS’s new program helps new transfer and former homeschool students get adapted to the school district

Primo Campagna transferred to Warwick High School last year, it was quite a culture shock for the teen.

No wonder. He and his family had moved to Lititz from Hawaii, with a stop in Florida in between. In Lititz, there were no palm trees, no surfing, and no ocean waves.

Thanks to Warwick High School’s LinkCrew program for freshmen, Primo felt welcomed right away. Now at 16 and a sophomore, he is among 27 Warwick High School students who are serving in the brand new Student Ambassador program for transfer students.

The new students may be coming to Warwick because their families moved into the Warwick School District, from as near as Manheim to as far away as Hawaii. They may be home-schooled students who are coming to public school for the first time. Perhaps there have been changes in their families, with relocation to a different school district.

It’s different than the LinkCrew program that helps freshmen get acclimated to high school life after coming from middle school. Student Ambassadors is a program for transfer students, who might be coming to Warwick as sophomore, juniors, or seniors. Some might even be near the end of their senior year, which can be a very tough transition.

“I realized that transfer students in grades 10 through 12 didn’t have a program to help them adjust to their new school,” says Dr. K.C. Testerman, assistant principal at Warwick High School.

“That’s why I wanted to start Student Ambassadors.”

So far this year, there have been about 10 new students in grades 10-12, and Student Ambassadors is helping them get acquainted at their new school.

“I liked Warwick right away, thanks to a student who helped to show me around,” says Primo. “He’s still my best friend.”

Coming from Hawaii, where life is a slow-paced paradise, Primo appreciates that Warwick isn’t quite so laid back. He is enjoying his classes and getting to know classmates. He feels that he is getting a better education.

Like most new students, lunchtime was a concern to Primo.

“When you start in a new place, you’re not sure where to sit at the lunchroom,” says Primo. “I was lucky. I felt welcomed right away.”

As it turns out, lunch can be the trickiest part of starting at a new school. Most students already have their friends that they sit with. A new student has no idea where to sit and who will accept them. Nothing could be more humiliating than being turned away.

“The purpose of our Student Ambassadors is to make sure that doesn’t happen,” says Testerman. “And to help new students find their place here at Warwick.”

Right from the start, they welcome the new student to the lunchroom, show them where their classes are, introduce them to students who share similar interests, offer advice on things they need to know, and where to go to for help.

Student Ambassador and sophomore Kerri Hahn, 16, has grown up in Lititz and started Warwick schools as a kindergartner. Her knowledge of Lititz and Warwick High School helps with the student she is welcoming to Warwick as a Student Ambassador. The student is a foreign exchange student from Paraguay, and has lots of questions for Kerri on life at Warwick.

Left to right: Kerri Hahn, Helena Gennace, Primo Campagna, Dr. K.C. Testerman, Alexa Ovalle.

“Luckily she is fluent in English, and while I am helping her adjust to Warwick, she is helping me learn some Spanish and about her culture,” says Kerri, who is involved in honors classes, music, and band at Warwick.

Sophomore Helena Gennace, 16, is another Student Ambassador who has lived in Lititz all her life. She puts herself in the place of a transfer student to help her welcome them to Warwick.

“It has to be intimidating to not know people. I want to make it less scary,” says Helena, who is involved in Unite Club, Philosophy Club, Art, and Spanish. “I think that Warwick is not as tough as some schools. Most students here are friendly and want to welcome new students.”

Alexa Ovalle, 15, agrees. The new sophomore transferred to Warwick High School after being homeschooled until ninth grade. With three younger siblings still being homeschooled, Alexa asked her parents if she could go to public school for the rest of her high school years.

She wanted to take advantage of more advanced classes in math and science, and have the chance to socialize with other students her age. She already had some friends at Warwick, since she has participated in track, cross country, and swimming on Warwick teams.

“I have had a very good first week,” says Alexa. “Everyone has made me feel so welcomed, and now that I understand how lunch, sports, and classes work, I am doing great. It’s the right choice for me.”

As Testerman explains, she specifically hand-picked each of her Student Ambassadors for their interest in helping others, their enthusiasm for reaching out, and their kindness. Then she contacted the students to invite them to be Student Ambassadors.

“I felt honored and surprised,” says Kerri. “It’s good to be able to connect with other people and make them feel welcomed. That’s what Warwick is all about.”

Laura Knowles is a freelance feature writer and regular contributor to the pages of the Record Express. She welcomes feedback and story tips at lknowles21@gmail.com.

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