Students Connect Through ‘Two Birds’

Pairs CMU, Clark Middle School students

November 2, 2017

Clark Middle School students interact with Central Methodist University students (from left) Raelynn Henson, a Health Sciences major from Houston, Texas; Macy Block, a Religion and Church Leadership major from Montgomery City; and Allison Hines, a Psychology major from Overland Park, Kan. during a “2 Birds/1 Nest,” or SOAR (Student Organization for Academic Relationships), gathering. The program is designed to build a mentor relationship between the middle school and college students.A program designed to build a mentor relationship between Central Methodist University (CMU) students and Fayette’s Clark Middle School (CMS) sixth-through-eighth graders is back this year and growing.

Because the mascots of both schools are birds (CMS Falcons, CMU Eagles) the program has come to be known as “2 Birds/1 Nest,” though officially it is SOAR (Student Organization for Academic Relationships), according to CMU Vice President for Student Engagement Ken Oliver.

The 2017-18 version kicked off on Oct. 26 with 39 CMS students participating, according to Cassidy Spaeder, Clark Middle School counselor. Spaeder identifies students in grades 6-8 who have the potential to excel in SOAR; the goal is to pair a 6th grade CMUS student with a CMU freshman, allowing the two to grow together throughout the years.

CMU mentors must meet the definition of a role model, demonstrate academic skills, and can encourage academic success while demonstrating the importance of continuing education, according to CMU Director of Civic Engagement Cassandra Nappier. She said more than 50 CMU students applied to be mentors.

“I was ecstatic at the number who wanted to participate,” Nappier noted. “In years past we’ve focused on student-athletes to be mentors.  This year, we opened it up campus wide and the response was phenomenal.”

“SOAR is a great opportunity for kids in the middle school to have mentors and leaders at the collegiate level to provide them with academic and social support with the hope of encouraging them toward higher education,” Spaeder added.

The first SOAR meeting for 2017-18 brought CMS students to the CMU campus by bus, for ice breaker activities and “get to know you” games, along with snacks and refreshments. CMU students have already begun to ask when they may visit their mentee at the Middle School.  More events will be held at a future date.

“We are extremely pleased that this program has continued to be a positive influence on the youth of Fayette,” Oliver added. “We are in the fifth year of this program and each year it gets better and better.

“The impact this program has had on the lives of students from Fayette and Central Methodist is truly priceless,” he added.