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CLIC program helping to ease freshmen transition at Brooks DeBartolo Collegiate High School

Program may soon expand to more schools
CLIC shirt.png
Posted at 8:23 AM, Aug 10, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-10 09:01:32-04

TAMPA, Fla. — There's a lot of excitement this morning on the first day of school, but we know some kids are anxious, too. We all remember what it was like — high school can be scary, especially for freshmen.

A program at Tampa’s Brooks DeBartolo Collegiate High School aims to ease anxiety. Instead of breaking up cliques, it's encouraged at the school.

CLIC is an acronym that stands for Cultivating Leaders and Intentional Culture.

Dan Allen, a teacher at the school, created the program.

“The premise of the idea is that we can get student leaders, juniors and seniors, who actually volunteer for this," said Allen. "They mentor freshmen through their first year of high school.”

CLIC leaders were put through a training program over the summer. They’ll meet regularly with freshmen, host bonding activities and encourage them to share how they’re doing and feeling.

Destiny Jessie is a senior at Brooks. She’s also a CLIC leader.

“When they come in, they’re anxious. It’s a completely new environment, and they’re just coming from their previous middle school," said Jessie. "They might not have friends at this school. We just really want to put out a helping hand, a shoulder to lean on.”

Cheryl Fernandez is the high school's principal. She said the goal of CLIC is to ensure no student feels alone.

“If you remember high school as well, I remember high school; it was a very scary time. As freshmen, you don’t have those connections," said Fernandez. "It does make it feel a lot easier to transition in and not have so many divided groups in the school. That way, they know there’s somebody at all times they can reach out to and not feel like they’re left on their own.”

CLIC leaders wear a bright blue t-shirts, a contrast to the schools’ maroon and gold uniforms. On the back, it reads, “Ask me how I can help?”

CLIC program t-shirt.png

Junior Peyton Feeley said the goal is to make CLIC leaders easy to spot in a crowd.

"It's really kind of like a big sister and a little brother, or it's kind of like a sibling love that we all have for each other," said Feeley. "Even when I was a sophomore, I had no problem going up to a senior and asking for help because either they were wearing their CLIC shirt, or I knew anyone here is willing to help you.”

CLIC leaders have their work cut out for them, but junior Carter Klakring said they’re ready.

“What we're gonna be doing is like helping freshmen find their classrooms and different like lunch periods, stuff like that. And a lot of things they might not know, or they might not have been taught in middle school," said Klakring.

Dan Allen is so proud of this team. He’s certain this program will make a difference at his school.

“There is a corps of kids in every school; I don't care what school you go to, that want school to be a better place. We start with those kids,” said Allen.

The University of South Florida is working with Allen to take his program to other schools in the Tampa Bay area. Later this month, he'll train teachers on how to start a CLIC at their schools.