BOZEMAN – Bozeman High School has a new volunteer program this year to increase adult presence within the building.
After the school shootings in Florida and Texas earlier this year, a group of parents in Bozeman came together to brainstorm how they could increase safety in the high school. They decided that increased adult presence could be helpful.
Now, the high school has community members greeting students in the morning, at lunch, and at the end of the day.
“For us, this is a good way to try and keep positive, try to show students we are thinking about them. We want them to be comfortable. School should be all about teaching and learning, coming to school without fear of violence,” said Bozeman High School Principal Kevin Conwell.
Some parents say the increased adult presence is comforting to them.
“Knowing that there’s community members here, supporting teachers and the amazing staff and administrators here to welcome these kids and be another adult presence in the school, feels absolutely amazing and really reassuring,” parent and volunteer Kristi Chester Vance said.
“Added benefit of having more vigilance in the school and visibility. We just hope that [volunteers] help create a positive atmosphere for us and deter bad behavior,” Conwell said.
This volunteer program doesn’t only increase the safety at the high school but also gives the kids a warm, smiling face to say hello to.
And even though it’s early in the school year, it’s already making a difference.
“On the first day of school it was really cold and rainy and one of the students here was new to town and she had never lived in Bozeman before; it was her first day of freshman year,” Chester Vance said. “She was sitting outside under an eave in the rain eating lunch. She didn’t really know anybody. One of our parents was able to go out and just say hello and greet her and check in with her and really change the course of her day by just connecting. That makes all the difference.”
The administration and staff appreciate having more adults in the building.
“Just more eyes. It’s a big sprawling campus, we know that. It’s a big place, we have over 2,200 students so we will take all the help we can get,” Conwell said.
Even though this is currently only at the high school, they are hoping it is something that spreads to other schools in the future. Anyone interested in volunteering can email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Becoming a volunteer requires a background check and a quick orientation.
Reporting by Emma Hamilton for MTN News