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Laura grevas/Daily Globe Student Ambassadors help newcomers adjust to life at Worthington High School. Pictured front row, left to right, are Miguel Jimenez, Elizabeth Dickey, Kari Li, Nicole Ektnitphong, Edgar Gutierrez, adviser Jan Larson. Back row: Keirstyn Sanders, Michael Harberts, Jesus Ordaz, Brett Spartz, Boualom Souvankham and adviser Robby Vargas. Not pictured is Ambassador Brianna Dodgen.

WHS ambassadors help newcomers

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News Worthington,Minnesota 56187 http://www.dglobe.com/sites/default/files/styles/square_300/public/fieldimages/4/0711/16-student-ambassadors.jpg?itok=gUEby250
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WHS ambassadors help newcomers
Worthington Minnesota 300 11th Street / P.O. Box 639 56187

WORTHINGTON -- Starting high school can be a challenge, but it's one that's made easier by a friendly face.

That's the idea behind the Student Ambassadors Program at Worthington High School, which got under way in late January.

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"It started with (counselor) Jan Larson and myself talking about the needs of the school and the needs of new students," explained Robby Vargas, the AmeriCorps Promise Fellow for the Nobles County Integration Collaborative. "There's nothing after the freshman orientation day for new students coming in. We really need something through the whole course of the year."

The current group of 11 ambassadors, all juniors or seniors, aim to make new students' transitions easier: new students not involved in the mass freshman orientation run by the LINK Crew at the start of each school year are paired with a student ambassador.

Ambassadors give tours of the high school, fill in the newcomers on clubs, organizations and events at the school, introduce the student to other students and staff, and even walk him or her through the lunchtime process.

"We'll eat with them a few times, invite them to activities outside of school," detailed junior ambassador Brett Spartz. He said his favorite part of the program is "getting to know students and find out where they're from, what they're interested in and what our school can offer them. It's a great opportunity to get to know new kids and help them experience high school like you wanted to."

"You get to help students out in a different way and make new friends," added ambassador Nicole Ektnitphong.

Vargas, who co-advises the group, said he'd like to increase membership to about 25 to 30 ambassadors, so no one student is pulled out of class to give tours too often. He hopes the ambassadors will help define the program's purpose as it grows.

"It's really a program for the students, by the students," he said. "It can change the whole atmosphere of the school to have these ambassadors just being friendly. ... A lot of times, because Worthington is so diverse, there is a lack of interaction between the students; it helps to have a diverse group willing to reach out."

Those interested in the program may pick up an application in the counselor's office at the high school; applications are considered on a rolling basis.

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