When Garrett Wedan transferred from Pequot Lakes to Franklin Junior High School in Brainerd at the start of his ninth-grade year, he and the other new students were introduced to the school by other ninth-graders, who served as peer mediators.
By the first day of school for all students the following day, Wedan already felt at ease in his new surroundings because he knew several of the other ninth-graders, the peer mediators who took the time to get to know him and show him around the building.
"That made an impact on him, having kids help him instead of just meeting staff," said his mother, Janet Wedan of Nisswa.
Garrett Wedan will receive a $4,500 college scholarship for starting Study Lab. Brainerd Dispatch/Steve Kohls » Purchase reprints of this photo.
It was this basic concept, of students helping other students, that gave Wedan, now a senior at Brainerd High School, the idea of creating a peer tutor program at BHS. His proposal submitted his junior year, and the implementation of his peer tutor program last fall, has earned the bright BHS senior a $4,500 college scholarship through the Hendrickson Institute for Ethical Leadership. A requirement of the scholarship is that a high school junior propose and carry out a project that benefits his or her school and/or community.
"It's an awesome program," Linda Dockter, BHS Career Center director, said of Wedan's peer tutor program. "It was really needed. I wish kids who were having academic struggles would utilize it more often. Our kids are there to tutor and they're there to help."
The program, called Study Lab, is offered in the BHS library from 3:30-5 p.m. each school day. One to three National Honor Society members, all BHS seniors, volunteer their time each day to tutor students in 10th-12th grades who would like some help. One or two teachers also are on hand to help as well. Students don't need to make an appointment, they simply have to show up.
Dockter, who also serves as a co-adviser for the National Honor Society, said the program gives the honor students the opportunity to get in their required 15-20 hours of community service during their senior year and helps their peers at the same time. BHS Assistant Principal Andrea Rusk had been wanting to start a tutoring program and Wedan's project was exactly what Rusk had in mind. Wedan worked with Rusk on setting up the program last summer.
Scholarship applicants wanted
Garrett Wedan will be the first recipient from Brainerd High School to be awarded a $4,500 college scholarship offered by the Hendrickson Institute for Ethical Leadership for his creation of the after school peer tutor program.
An alumnus of Saint Mary's University of Minnesota established the scholarship for high school student leaders. Scholarship recipients may use the scholarship for use at any post-secondary institution - vocational, two-year or four-year.
BHS juniors interested in applying for the scholarship need to turn in their project proposals to the BHS Career Center by Feb. 27.
Those eligible for the Tomorrow's Leaders High School Scholarship program must apply as a junior, have a high school grade-point average of 3.0 or higher, be motivated to pursue post-secondary education, possess strong moral values, have a lifestyle devoid of drug use and alcohol abuse, have evidence of personal conduct that demonstrates strength of character and moral integrity, and a background that demonstrates good judgment and well-rounded experiences.
A committee of high school administrators and teachers will select the best student-submitted leadership project that benefits the school and/or the community. That project must be implemented during the student's senior year in order for the student to receive the scholarship.
For more information, contact Linda Dockter at the BHS Career Center at 454-6330.
Wedan is an example of how one student can make a difference.
"He's just an outstanding young man," said Dockter.
"I didn't expect it to work out this well but it's working," said Wedan.
Ironically, Wedan has been so busy academically this year he hasn't yet had an opportunity to tutor but plans to this spring. He's taking five advanced placement classes this year and is involved with debate, speech, National Honor Society, intramural basketball and is a board member on Youth As Resources and the Youth Teen Advisory Board at the Brainerd Public Library. A year ago, Wedan was selected as a student ambassador in the People to People Student Ambassador program where he spent three weeks traveling to England, Wales and Ireland. He said the experience broadened his interests and encouraged him to try new things.
His future plans include attending Central Lakes College next year and then transferring to the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks, majoring in engineering and computer science in the aerospace field.
JODIE TWEED can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 855-5858.
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.