Written by Aubri Juhasz, Oyster Bay High School Thursday, 24 April 2014 10:21
Over the past decade, Oyster Bay High School has been a proud participant of the Student Athlete Leadership Program affectionately referred to as SALP. Also known as SALT (Student Athlete Leadership Team), SALP consists of more than 1,200 student athletes across Long Island from 30 different high schools. The mission for SALP’s members is simple: to serve as role models for their community’s youth by leading lives untainted by alcohol and drug use, and spearheaded by effective effort in the classroom and on the playing field.
As a participant in the SALP program, student athletes attend training sessions at Molloy College in Rockville Centre. These students represent the most driven of their class in terms of academics and athletics. Each SALP member must be a participant in at least one varsity sport, exhibit significant effort and success in the classroom as well as serve as a key leader in the community.
Over the course of three training sessions, student athletes are trained to act as facilitators between the program and fifth- and sixth-grade students in their district. In three separate visits with their middle school mentees, student athletes discuss the importance of perseverance, citizenship and abstinence from drugs and alcohol.
The program serves as more than just a learning experience for the middle school students involved; it is also an opportunity for the student athletes to practice and exercise their leadership and oratory skills. For the fifth- and sixth-grade students, the program also provides them with an opportunity to glimpse at their upcoming role as members of the high school community.
By allowing the students to ask questions and communicate with the high school student athletes on a personal level, it makes for a more comfortable transition from middle to high school.
This year, the school’s SALP program is bigger than ever, consisting of 37 junior and senior student athletes. Advisor to the program and high school physical education teacher Jeff Schiereck has been with the program for the past 10 years.
“A lot of deserving kids applied this year and we had no reason not to let them all in,” said Schiereck in regard to the number of kids participating in this year’s program. “I am happy with our decision to let in as many as we did. They are all doing an outstanding job.”
Student athletes are split into teams of three or four students and meet with the same assigned class for each of the three visits. This allows for the students to get comfortable with their mentors over a period of time. At each visit, student athletes share personal stories relating to the visit’s topic. By doing so, they are able to show the relevance of each topic to everyday life.
Vernon students love having the student athletes visit their classrooms. They get a lot out of hearing the high school students’ stories. They learn a lot about sportsmanship and about what to expect when they get to the high school.
By visiting with the students, the SALP program hopes to inspire another generation of student athlete leaders.
“I would love to be a member of SALP someday, I could teach kids how to act if they win or lose a game and then maybe they would want to do SALP one day, too,” said a sixth-grader.
With students like this and their fellow classmates enthusiastic about one day following in the footsteps of their SALP mentors, the future of the program looks bright.