Poring over 39 applications for just a dozen available spots, the competition is fierce.
And it’s not even for a ‘job’ – it’s for the Peer Interaction Team at Escalon High School.
PIT, as it’s popularly known, is a sought-after class, agreed advisor Sue Gentry.
“We get a plethora of wonderful people,” she said of the applicants, but noted that the screening and selection process is “a little rigorous” because there are so few openings.
Students who will be incoming sophomores, juniors or seniors are eligible to apply for PIT. Among the activities of the class, they are paired with ‘buddies’ and meet them at Dent, Van Allen or El Portal at specific times during the week for some one-on-one time to talk, offer support, homework help and the like.
The team members also put on a variety of schoolwide activities and special programs at EHS.
“We do go into some of our special needs classrooms once a week as well,” Gentry said.
And this year, PIT has taken over leadership of the school’s ‘Care Closet’ which provides needed toiletries, basic school supplies and food to students in need.
“I like interacting with people and the way we help each other out,” said first year member Reyne Morado, a senior.
“It’s super fun,” agreed fellow first year PIT member and senior Joanna Garcia. “You get to meet new people.”
For second year participant, senior Alexis Silva, she said one of the most unexpected aspects of the class for her was the personal growth.
“What surprised me was how much trust is in the class, how much you have to trust each other,” she said.
A PIT off-campus training helped drive that point home and Silva said the team was able to bring that back to the high school and share that message with classmates.
Madison Pence enjoys getting the chance to ‘buddy’ up with a younger student.
“I go to El Portal on Tuesdays and Thursdays,” she explained. “Plus being in PIT, you do all the fun stuff around campus.”
Pence, a senior, is in her first year with PIT and many of the current class members had PIT buddies when they were younger, and now are paying it back through helping a new younger buddy of their own.
Interviews for potential PIT members are going on now, said Gentry, who has served as the PIT advisor for the past four years. Potential new members meet with a panel for a few ‘icebreaker’ questions to get them over their nerves, then proceed to the formal interview.
“We try to divide it up between the classes so we have a good balance of sophomores, juniors and seniors,” Gentry explained of filling the available seats.
She also said she was very pleased that the PIT team has taken on such a leadership role in making sure the Care Closet has enough items to take care of students on campus that need a little extra help. Students that need some emergency food or supplies can contact Gentry at the high school or their individual school counselor. This helps protect their privacy, said Gentry.
“What we look for in a PIT member is a genuine personality, someone who can get as much from the class as they can give,” Gentry added. “It’s pretty amazing to watch the growth of these kids over the years.”