P-CEP programs help new Park students feel at home

The outside of Salem high school sits on a summer morning. Dec. 20, 2023.
The outside of Salem high school sits on a summer morning. Dec. 20, 2023.
Anay Nair

Some students face challenges and hardships when they move into a new school district. It can be overwhelming at first, but P-CEP offers programs to help incoming freshmen and new students become familiar with the school campus.

Salem sophomore Sameeh Al Rawashdah recently moved to Canton, Michigan, from Doha, Qatar. Al Rawashdah has had to adjust to the new cultures and environments. Being new to a school can be tough, but Al Rawashdah has proved that adapting to a friendly environment is easier than it looks.

New students to a school face hardships and changes that emotionally impact them. According to ​​Katherine Lee, Ph.D., “Younger children may struggle with new classroom expectations, new routines, and different types of homework. Older children, on the other hand, may have a harder time making friends, forming close relationships with teachers, or learning a new curriculum that differs greatly from their old one, says Lee.” 

It is a challenge for many teenagers to move out and transfer to a new school, especially to a new country, during the middle of the academic year. “It was hard for me, but I have to do it. You gotta move on,” said Al Rawashdah.

Salem freshman, Moslem Alswaychet sits in his math class during homeroom. Dec. 20, 2023

An additional challenge facing students’ transitions includes the language the lessons are taught in, English. For Al Rawashdah, English was taught minimally in Qatar, and is hard to focus on. “I find it easier, it depends on the subject.,” said Al Rawashdah.

Salem freshman Moslem Alswaychet moved to Canton from Dearborn and is new to P-CCS. He is driven to excel in his academics. “I want to get good grades and study for all my classes for the future,” said Alswaychet.

Moslem found the school’s environment to be similar to his old school at Dearborn and adapted easily. “It was pretty easy to adapt to the school environment, similar to my old school at Dearborn,” said Alwaychet.

Link Crew is a school-sponsored voluntary group of students consisting of juniors and seniors who help and guide newly joined freshmen and other newly admitted students in P-CEP. As these students come from other countries, states, and districts, Link Crew  helps them to become more familiar with the school. Katie Carr, Link Crew Coordinator and Algebra I teacher at Salem High School, finds her role enjoyable.

Link Crew Coordinator Katie Carr works in her classroom office at Salem High School during homeroom. Dec. 20, 2023.
(Anay Nair)

“I think the great thing about P-CEP is that we have a lot of different cultures,” said Carr.

Carr helps students become more aware of extracurriculars that they may have an interest in and urges them to join. She motivates new students to join activities of their own interests and meet new people and get to know them. “I think a common problem is just adjusting to the size of P-CEP and finding your place,” said Carr. “I try to push students to try and join something because I think once you have a group of people, it makes this big place not feel so big,” said Carr.

As school counselors are mainly the leading figures for newly joined students, they help them get around the campus as well as give them appropriate classes for their schedules. Salem High School Counselor, Mark Howson assists new students with the social or emotional struggles they face at school. Howson notes the growth of new students at the Park.                                                                         

“Most students I see who come to P-CEP seem overwhelmed at first, but after the first week, they’re kind of like, okay, I know my routine,” said Howson.  

Howson also faces challenges from foreign students who may not speak English. Students who speak

Salem Counselor Mark Howson during his office hours at Salem High School. Dec. 15, 2023.
(Anay Nair)

English as their second language or those who don’t speak often may encounter challenges adapting to American schools. However, P-CEP has multilingual ambassadors to offer to newcomers who have difficulty speaking English. The ambassadors are assigned to students who speak their native language. 

Howson gets connected to these multilingual ambassadors who make it easier for him to communicate with new students who speak English minimally. “So if you don’t speak English, or if you’ve limited English, we try to review with someone who speaks your specific home language, just to make you feel more comfortable.” 

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