St. Paul School photoThe class of 2014 from St. Paul School, Eugene.
St. Paul School photo
The class of 2014 from St. Paul School, Eugene.
EUGENE — As the school year is coming to an end, eighth graders at St. Paul School are looking back and reflecting on experiences. A common theme that resurfaced is Family Groups, a monthly gathering in which eighth graders lead a small group of students in prayer and an activity. Each family group has one student from every class at St. Paul, ranging from Pre-Kindergarten to 8th grade.

“Family groups bring together a group of people that normally wouldn’t have talked to each other,” says eighth grader Julia Mellendy.

The wide range of age can make bonding difficult at school, but Family Groups provide an opportunity to build a community. The positive effects are clear. Eighth graders roam the halls and are bombarded by younger students waving and giving hugs.

Caitlyn Kirk knows how big this small gesture is.

“I remember when I was little, Family Groups made the older kids seem less scary,” Kirk says. “Now that I’m an eighth grader I want to do the same for the younger kids. I want to be nice to them and make them feel comfortable and confident.”

As the eighth graders approach graduation they are starting to recognize the significance of Family Groups for their individual growth.

“We learn leadership and how to communicate effectively,” said eighth grader Brooke Kline. “Family Groups give you an opportunity to work with people of all ages and skill levels, and that will help us when we are in high school, when we have jobs and when we volunteer in the community.”