BIG SISTER CHRIS: I first met my Little, Michelle, in the library of Riverview Elementary School, where we met for Study Connection once a week. She was in third grade, and had bright, excited eyes and a big smile, and her optimistic energy was boundless. As “School Buddies,” we did everything from working on homework to playing games to reading books out loud together. Michelle’s biggest challenge was to sit still at our own table there was always something so exciting happening at other tables! Since Michelle is bilingual, one of the goals we set was for her to teach me Spanish. Michelle was a great teacher, and had a lot of patience with me. She found my attempts at pronouncing words with a Spanish accent “adorable.”
LITTLE SISTER MICHELLE: I remember all the fun board games that we played together and with other matches including The Game of Life, with my cousin and his Big. Chris and I also spent time in the Computer Lab playing really cool math games and doing online book reviews after I read books aloud to her in the library. When we got bored, we prowled around looking for more fun things to do after finishing my homework, of course.
BIG SISTER CHRIS: After three years at Riverview, Michelle and I decided to keep Study Connection going during middle school, so I continued to meet her once a week after school at Escalante. We met again in the library, and our School Buddy supervisor, Jordan, provided a big pile of fun board games and activities. Michelle still had her bright eyes and big smile, but sometimes needed a listening ear for the growing pains of middle school life, so sometimes we just talked.
LITTLE SISTER MICHELLE: Yes, it helped to have someone different to talk to during my first year of middle school, and after a stressful day in school, it was fun to dive into that big pile of games and crafts! We made friendship bracelets, played Jenga and Pick-up Sticks (which Chris said she remembered from her childhood), and I gave Chris a tour of my classrooms when I had to drop stuff off for teachers. I also seem to remember doing something with pipe cleaners?
BIG SISTER CHRIS: It was enjoyable and amazing to watch the girl I had met in third grade blossom into a whole, wonderful new person in middle school. Michelle became passionate about dance and volleyball in those years, and for a while we took a break from Study Connection because she got so busy! But she surprised (and moved) me when she asked me to attend her Eighth Grade Life Presentation (a graduation ritual at the end of middle school), and I was SO PROUD when I got to sit in that room with her family and friends, and hear Michelle’s assessment of how she had grown over the three years at Escalante!
LITTLE SISTER MICHELLE: That was fun. And also during that time, Chris and I decided to transition to the Community-Based program so we could see each other on weekends and times when I wasn’t so busy. I loved the Rice Krispie treats that Chris used to bring to Riverview, so one of the first things we did was make these in her kitchen. Yum!! I’d always wanted to make a Tator Tot casserole that I’d once had on a field trip, so we found a recipe and made that, then tried some frosted brownies, which were absolutely delicious. We also tried fun BBBS events like making fused glass creations, racing around in the Escape Room, and scrambling to find scavenger hunt items on the Colorado Trail.
BIG SISTER CHRIS: When Michelle started high school, we met after school during her freshman year at the Public Library (we like libraries!), just to talk and sometimes work on homework. Michelle told me about her passion for La Crosse and excitement for an upcoming trip to Spain during Spring Break when the pandemic came and those dreams were dashed.
LITTLE SISTER MICHELLE: (Sad Face)
BIG SISTER CHRIS: But I still get to see Michelle’s bright eyes and (mostly) big smile on FaceTime when we “meet” and talk, and recently we challenged each other to find something around the house that we wanted to “transform,” (an item on BBBS’s list of fun things to do together be sure to check it out!). I found two old cans and turned them into fabric-covered pencil jars, and Michelle is working on transforming an old tulle-covered ballet skirt into something new. (She’s not sure what yet.)
LITTLE SISTER MICHELLE: Right now, I’m doing Summer Academy for Fort Lewis College’s Trio Upward Bound program. It’s supposed to help prepare us for college life, but due to the pandemic, it’s all online this year, instead of up on campus (which was very disappointing). But at least I get to see a lot of my friends in the program through Google Meet, which is fun.
BIG SISTER CHRIS: See what I mean about Michelle’s optimism?! Through our seven years together, Michelle has not only gifted me with her enthusiasm and bright spirit, but she’s been such a fun person to be with, watch grow, and teach me all kinds of things about herself and life. I may have done a lousy job learning Spanish, but what I learned and benefitted from having Michelle as my Little is invaluable something I will always hold close to my heart.
LITTLE SISTER MICHELLE: Aprendi mucho de Big Brothers Big Sisters. [I learned so much from Big Brothers Big Sisters.]
I’m so thankful to have this amazing program because of the people I met, and I will always look back on and think about how it changed me so much!