Peer Counseling: Coming Full Circle

Eleanor ’24, Arianna ’24, Tommy ’24, Cassidy ’21,  and me at a Second Form peer counseling meeting

 

Dropping the red circle into position, Tommy glances in my direction–flashing a grin from his beanbag. Seconds away from a Connect Four victory, we both start giggling as Arianna and Eleanor realize what’s about to happen. “Oh no,” Eleanor chuckles. “We’ve been bamboozled!” Shuffling Tommy another chip from the box, he places the piece into the middle slot, and with a satisfying click, the win is ours!

After chatting for a few minutes, we hear footsteps in the stairwell. Cassidy–jogging in from a late practice with the girls varsity hockey team–enters the Wellness Center with an enthusiastic, “Hey guys, what’s up?!” Joining us on the couches, her smile brightens the room as all of the Second Formers boomerang her hello. The five of us–finally together–excitedly exchange stories from the past week before Cassidy produces three sheets of lined paper from her backpack. Speaking to Tommy, Arianna, and Eleanor as their peer counselors, we explain the reason for our rendezvous: to help them write their Second Form letters-to-self.

Essentially, the letter serves as a time capsule. In their final year on the Circle, the Second Form gets to reread their sentiments from the beginning, which I think is pretty awesome! Coming in as a sophomore, I never had the chance to attend Groton’s Lower School, but through my Second Form peer counseling group (and former thirds soccer teammates), I have been able to experience it vicariously. Having two younger siblings that I am incredibly close with, Braxton and Berkeley, the Lower Schoolers often remind me of them and of home. The peer counseling group is like an extended family, and I’m so grateful that Groton provides this dynamic for its students.

At the beginning of this year, I joined the peer counselor program–a group that embodies the Groton ideals of service, selflessness, and camaraderie. Inspired by my dorm peer counselor, Andrew Mazza ’20, to enroll, I didn’t know what to expect or necessarily what being a peer counselor entailed; I just wanted to help those that needed guidance, a friend, or simply someone to talk to.

Now, after spending six months in the role, I would argue that I have benefitted just as much (if not more) than those I have been lucky enough to support. By forging closer relationships with both my fellow dorm residents and with the Second Form squad that Cassidy and I counsel, I have become both a humbler individual and a more empathetic leader. From a peer counseling perspective, my biggest hope is that I have been–or will be–able to inspire someone to apply for the program, as Andrew did for me. Kindness is contagious, and I dream that one day, everyone will be infected:)