More than 100 fifth-grade students from Temple Independent School District elementary schools gathered with their Wildcat Mentors for a day of food, games and Christmas crafts at a holiday celebration Wednesday at the Ralph Wilson Youth Club/Emerson campus.
“We have this special event in order to strengthen the fellowship between the mentors and mentees,” said Martin Campos, president of the Wildcat Mentors board of directors.
“This is an opportunity to enjoy lunch, make crafts and play some games. We have about 120 kids, and we’re expecting to feed about 250 people, including staff and community volunteers.”
This is Campos’ third year with the program, and he is mentoring a student at Cater Elementary this year, he said.
Jennie Mathesen, director of student intervention services for the district, helped to organize the event and expressed her appreciation to the volunteers and everyone involved with the program.
“We especially want to thank H-E-B for donating all the hot dogs and buns, and Charlie Kimmey (director of the Ralph Wilson Youth Club) and his wife Kathy for donating the chips and cookies,” she said.
“This is fun,” Kimmey said. “We enjoy cooking. This morning we started out with cold weather and insulated underwear and now it’s gotten to the point where it’s a pretty nice day.
“I’ve been a mentor since day one, and it’s something I really enjoy doing.”
Kimmey is mentoring a student at Thornton Elementary.
The holiday celebration has been an important part of the program since it began five years ago, said Robin Battershell, TISD superintendent and a mentor.
“The kids love it, and we get great representation from different parts of the community,” she said.
Dorothy Mathieson has been mentoring students for five years, she said, adding that she has mentored seven students in that time.
“I worked at Ralph Wilson Youth Club for 19 years, and I love making a difference in a child’s life,” she said. “A lot of mentees need extra attention, and that’s what we provide them.
“We give them an opportunity to gain confidence and we encourage them to make better grades and focus on what they might want to do in their careers.
“I love seeing the kids’ faces when you meet them at school, and they know you’re there to see them and to spend time with them.”
Essence Countiss, 10, a student at Raye-Allen Elementary, said “being out of school” was one of the highlights of the event for her.
“I also like making the Christmas cards,” she said. “It’s really fun.”
Jameria Duncan, 10, said not being at school was something she was also enjoying.
“I also really like making the cards,” she said.
Dai’Von Guradado, 11, said playing games, making crafts and spending time in the gym were things he enjoyed.
He spent his time playing foosball, ping pong and playing basketball, and making a Christmas card for his mother, Dai’Von said.
Johnye Harriman is in her first year as a mentor, and spent time with mentee Essence Allen on Wednesday.
“I enjoy getting to talk with Essence,” she said. “It’s fun getting to interact with young minds and getting a chance to visit.”
Rose Howard, 11, is a student at Jefferson Elementary. She said she had a great time at the holiday celebration.
“I liked the arts and crafts,” she said. “I also made a picture frame and played air hockey a lot.
“I also like spending time with my mentor … especially beating her at the games.”
Emily Cox said this is her first year to mentor a student.
“I just like being with Rose and getting a chance to hang out,” she said. “We usually don’t get this much time together, so this was great.”