Everyone should have the chance to fit in. This idea drove the Student to Student Teen Summit held June 18, at the Training Support Center on Fort Bragg. The goal of the summit was simple — find and share ways to make new students feel welcome. Over 60 middle and high school students from Fort Bragg, Cumberland County and surrounding county schools participated in S2S. It is sponsored by Child, Youth and School Services in conjunction with other local organizations, the summit featured various speakers, workshops, and interactive games.

“S2S is a great opportunity for schools to look at their school environment and see how they welcome new students . . . It’s important for students to find common ground with other students despite the ... differences they may share. One hundred percent acceptance of everyone is the message of the program” said Shevelle Godwin, school liaison officer at Fort Bragg Child and Youth Services.

Solomon McAuley, coach from Men of Academic Distinction and Excellence at Central Carolina Community College, began the summit by talking about leadership and the importance of impacting people’s lives in a positive way. He encouraged students to become familiar with their leadership style and personality type.

“How do you tell people where to go if you don’t know where you are?” McAuley asked the students. He also stressed that many people listen to everyone around them and forget to listen to themselves. “Don’t be one of those people,” he said, punctuating his point with a breakout game about the many influences students face and how to resist those influences.

The day also featured an information fair with speakers from organizations across Fort Bragg. Topics of interest included diet and nutrition, career goals, financial planning, and cyber bullying awareness. Speakers provided interactive activities and resources on various topics. During the breakout sessions, the teens played games, preformed skits and told stories about personal transitioning experiences.

“The activities of the program were fun and they actually made me laugh,” said a South View High School student.

Students also shared favorite practices for welcoming new students.

E.E. Smith High School was deemed to have one of the best welcome traditions around -— they serve free ice cream to their new students while giving them a tour of the school.

“S2S allows students to reflect on the time when being a new kid at school made them want a friend to reach out to . . . Students get the message of looking out for the new student and taking them under their wings,” said Godwin. The students agreed with her.

“The program is a great way to introduce new people to a school that they are unfamiliar with,” said a participant from South View High School.