A group of Delano middle school students developed a connection with freshman students at an eastern New Jersey university through a person who has ties to both schools.

Samantha Dyar, a graduate of both Cecil Avenue Middle School (now Cecil Avenue Math and Science Academy) and Delano High School, is serving as a peer adviser at Seton Hall

University in East Orange, New Jersey. Dyar, a junior majoring in musical theater and minoring in public relations, is in charge of 25 freshman students during the 2018-19 school year.

Dyar is available to answer questions and offer support and also sits in a freshman studies class with them. She commented to her mother, Cecil Avenue sixth-grade teacher Heidi Gonzales

Dyar, that many of the students were very nervous about the start of school.

“Samantha and I talked about how college freshmen are just as scared as sixth-graders to start something new,” Dyar said.

Dyar worked with her seventh-period elective grade six leadership class at CAMS to put together goodie bags to send to the Seton Hall students. The CAMS students wrote a note of encouragement for each bag, and then shipped them to Seton Hall.

Dyar heard from Samantha that the Seton Hall students were so appreciative of the goodies and the letters. Samantha gave her group an overview of the students, and what it is like

to grow up in Delano. She also informed her supervisor and other staff on campus of the letters and items sent to the freshmen by the CAMS students.

“Her students were so moved that they decided to write each student in the leadership class a personal letter,” Dyar said.

Samantha, the students and Seton Hall also put together goodie bags to go with their letters to thank the CAMS students and offered some background on themselves and their

university. During November, the leadership class students were surprised to receive their letters and goodie bags, which included for each students a Seton Hall T-shirt and a Seaton Hall coin.

The letters thanked the Cecil Avenue students for their letters and goodie bag, gave the middle school students encouragement to continue to learn and to make good friends. The videos

of the Cecil Avenue students receiving their goodie bags have been shared with the freshmen, professors and deans at Seton Hall. The groups will continue to exchange letters through the remainder of the school year.

Mike Bledsoe is the director of child development services for Delano Union School District.

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