Gator-Aide Mentorship Program Enters Year Two


Brian Gamble ’23, a Gator-Aide mentor, poses for the camera. Photo courtesy of Nicole DeCesare.

Even before the 2022-2023 school year kicked into full swing, 12th-grade mentors in the School’s Gator-Aide Program were working to welcome the incoming class of 2026. 

The program, started by Director of Career and Leadership Services Dona Rehm, began in the fall semester of 2021 with the goal of helping new students become acclimated to the School.

“[Gator-Aide] was designed to help new students, both 9th-graders and transfer students, acclimate to the school while also supporting their development of different skills and tools as they enter early adulthood,” Rehm said in an interview with The Gator last year.

With half a year of experience under its belt, the 12th-grade Gator-Aides began their meetings during New Student Orientation at the end of August. The program runs through the full year, ending with new 11th-grade mentors taking over for the 12th grade in the springtime.

Leni Hicks-Dutt ‘23, a Gator-Aide mentor, said that she enjoys the social aspect of Gator-Aides just as much as the mentorship.

“My favorite part about [the Gator-Aide program] is meeting the ninth graders,” Hicks-Dutt said. “It’s also a way for me to expand the circle of people that I’m talking to, so I really like that as well.”

Rehm said that she’s pleased with how the program is going so far this year.

“I’m most excited to see the Gator-Aide program continue to grow this year,” Rehm said. “We started off strong with a great orientation program. I am hopeful that the Gator-Aide program will continue to support our freshmen.”

Current 9th-graders report that the Gator-Aides have been helpful guides as they start their high school experience. 

“Gator-Aides really helped me get a sense of the people and the school.” Nikka Souza ‘26 said. “My Gator-Aide gave me a really good tour and gave me a rundown on the classes. They also gave me a Canvas tutorial and advice on how to get my homework done on time. It was really helpful for me as I went into the high school transition.”

The Gator-Aides pose with Gatorade after Orientation. Photo courtesy of Dona Rehm.

Past 9th-graders say that Gator-Aides was a valuable social experience.

“I thought that [the Gator-Aides] was pretty fun each week,” Ryan Hurst ‘25 said. “But I thought that meeting every Friday was a bit much. I definitely think it’s good for the newer students.”

As far as expectations for the 12th-grade mentors, Rehm said she expects that they “will continue to be the friendly, welcoming, and supportive students they’ve shown to be.”