“I like my (middle school) buddy. I know I can trust him,” 9-year-old Isaac Tugume said. Over lunch each week Isaac meets with his buddy, Russell Swansen, 14, who walks over to Hawthorn Elementary North School from Hawthorn Middle School North to serve as a buddy to the younger child.

The two students tell jokes with each other and kid around but Isaac also knows he can confide in Russell about more troubling matters.

The mentorship program pairs middle school students with third and fifth graders who might benefit from having an older role model with whom they can talk and confide in. The middle school students are selected from the school’s leadership program, TRY (Teens Reaching Youth).

“The middle school students are an excellent academic and social leaders,” said Elementary North Social Worker Debbie Dubin.