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February 21, 2024
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Big Sibs Makes a Comeback

Freshman+Orientation+2023
BTHS Student Media
Freshman Orientation 2023

With over 6,000 students, roughly 250 clubs, and a 9-story building to navigate, the transition to Brooklyn Tech can often prove overwhelming for freshmen. To help them acclimate, the Big Sibs program connects them with seniors, juniors, and sophomores who know their way around the building, classes, and extracurricular activities at Tech. 

A Big Sib’s job begins at freshman orientation – leading the new students on their first tour of the school. Throughout September, the Big Sibs executive board, comprised of six people this year, works to assign seven to ten freshmen “Little Sibs” to one of over 200 upperclassmen in the program. The co-vice president of the program, Biological Sciences major Samiha Akter (‘24), said that the board “tries to accommodate people that request to be paired with a specific freshman, whenever that’s possible.”

Then, each Big Sib sends their group of freshmen biweekly emails jam-packed with important information on school events and after-school activities. However, as the school year progresses, the demands of schoolwork make it increasingly difficult for Big Sibs to send out emails every two weeks, and if a Big Sib misses the deadline, their Little Sibs miss important updates and lose a valuable informational resource. 

While the emails are helpful, some feel more comfortable talking in person during visits to each advisory, made by groups of Big Sibs three to four times a year to answer any questions that the emails could not. The advisory visits provide an opportunity for Little and Big Sibs to connect, face to face, without the challenge of screens. “The first time they came to our class, one of the Big Sibs there had my Physics teacher, and it was really helpful to know that somebody else had them,” recalled Leo Zell (‘26).

The COVID-19 pandemic severed the link between Little and Big Sibs, as there was no in-person way to connect. While Big Sibs did provide limited remote services during 2020, the use of Zoom proved as a barrier between Little and Big Sibs, and Little Sibs lacked guidance in a year when it was needed most.

The program slowly struggled back to life in 2021, but limited interaction between Big and Little Sibs became normal in the years following the pandemic. After the program lost its original advisor, Ms. Christina Massie stepped up to the job. “It was a huge challenge to group the freshmen with the Sibs when we first came back,” she said. “It was most difficult to get the information we needed from the admin to pair the freshmen.”

 Civil Engineering major and Big Sib Valerie Budiman (‘25) would have appreciated having somebody there to guide her as a freshman in 2021.

The next year, Budiman applied to become a Big Sib, determined to “be of help to somebody.” She noted that it is challenging to remember the emails with the Tech workload, but though her schoolwork played a role in when they were sent, it never changed the quality.

This year, Big Sibs is making a comeback. “Over the last two years, the Big Sibs Program has gotten back on its feet and the Presidents and Co-Presidents have been fabulous at following up and getting the program back,” said Ms. Massie. 

Co-Vice President Akter sees the changes. “It’s very different; we have a bigger team than we did last year,” she said.

The program is trying to strengthen the bond between Big and Little Sibs, a difficult task at a school the size of Tech, but the board has big ideas. “We’re really trying to work to make the connection stronger; some events that we haven’t planned yet, but have in mind, are movie nights and game nights,” Akter explained.

For this year, Ms. Massie hopes to restore all that was lost during the pandemic. “We are still getting the Sibs coming back strong and smoothly,” she said. “Ms. Cuesta has allowed the Sibs to push in to meet and speak with the Little Sibs, which has been a new and positive change.”

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About the Contributor
Rosemary Sanders, Staff Writer
Rosemary Sanders (she/her) is a Staff Writer. Rosemary joined The Survey to have the opportunity to learn more about Brooklyn Tech and the people that go here. She believes that journalism plays a vital role in communities by shedding light on new topics and unexplored opinions. She is interested in continuing with journalism to improve her writing skills and hear people's stories. Rosemary's favorite publications to read are The New York Times and The New Yorker. Rosemary doesn't know what she wants to do in the future, but it will definitely involve books and writing! In her free time, Rosemary enjoys reading, listening to music, and thrifting. Right now, her favorite book is The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon. 

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    :)Dec 4, 2023 at 4:18 pm

    Best article I’ve ever read! This techie is going far.

    Reply