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The student news site of iUniversity Prep in Grapevine, Texas


The student news site of iUniversity Prep in Grapevine, Texas



How the Owl Pals Have Made Life a Little Better
Amirah Santos Figueroa

In our virtual classrooms, some students at iUP go out of their way to make things better for others – such as the club Owl Pals. As you’ve probably been told by at least one teacher, Owl Pals is a group of students across all grade levels above fifth grade who dedicate themselves to serving iUniversity Prep and its students through organizing events, putting together fun meetings, and generally uplifting the student population. But, there are many things you aren’t aware of when it comes to the Owl Pals – such as a project that they’ve been working on for the iUP’s fifth graders, called the “Adopt a Fifth Grader Project.” 


The “Adopt a Fifth Grader Project” is a smaller group within Owl Pals who focus on making fifth graders feel welcome at iUP. Fifth graders are the first grade accepted into iUniversity, and as such, they are both younger than everyone else and new; alone in an environment full of middle and high school students. The AFGP group combats that loneliness by planning and executing what they call “Owlette Meetings” – a time each month when fifth graders can show up and be included in the community. Each meeting has a theme, like Halloween or back-to-school, and takes lots of effort and planning. Members of the group were interviewed to find out more. 


“When I was in my first year of owl pals, I actually had a load of 5th and 6th graders, and I remember being so happy welcoming littles into the school.” says Kindle Booth. “It was a really fun experience because I got to pass down what I knew and help them be the most prepared they could be. Hearing that this was becoming a project made me so excited to hear I could help the newest owls join our school smoothly made me really happy.”


During the meetings, Owlettes (the slang term for fifth graders here at iUp) are given opportunities to participate (or not) in fun activities like Kahoot, Gimkit, and other events. The Owl Pals host the meetings and try their best to make the new fifth graders feel welcome and relaxed in a virtual environment. Some of the fall season of meetings included:

  •  A Back to School Welcome Meeting, where fifth graders choose their Owl Pals for the semester
  •  A Halloween Party, featuring a costume contest and trivia Kahoot 
  • A November Escape Room
  • A Winter Bash, with a Gimkit

All meetings are planned in advance. For the fall semester, a solidified schedule and topic board were drawn up by students at the beginning of the school year.


When it comes time to begin work on a meeting, the people who signed up for the topic split off into a group chat. The presentation is created (these people go wild with slides), and the general outline of the meeting is drawn up. Usually, everyone chooses a piece to work on, and checks in with the other members periodically as the meeting takes shape. Another member also makes an announcement slide to put into the grade chats and pride meetings. A few days before it’s scheduled, the leading hosts meet to have a mock-up meeting and work out any final bugs within the presentation.


During the meeting, the hosts essentially lead a Live Lesson. People are answering questions, fixing day-of glitches, and doing their best to keep everything running smoothly. Most of the time, nothing goes wrong. However, the Owl Pal projects are not without their concerns. “We try to do as much publicity as we can such as adding announcements to Pride meetings and grade chats,” states Zainab Zubair. “However, I feel like we can definitely do better with publicity and we will be coming up with better ideas to increase turnout. One reason I think turn out is scarce is because most students either don’t check chats or don’t come to pride meetings. Most students just prefer to not attend social meetings and events which is perfectly fine, but I do wish they’d try it out.” 


Owlette attendance has been down for some time. The larger issue is that fifth graders feel nervous to participate and prefer to avoid interaction instead of taking part in iUP’s wonderful community. However, the Owl Pals are working to fix this problem. The recent November Escape Room was a trial run for a new tactic they’ve been trying out – expanding attendance to all grades in the hopes of gaining notoriety and attracting more fifth graders to the club. While it’s unclear the impact this has had, the group members have hope for a packed future.


But the real question is, what do the fifth graders think?


It was very difficult to secure data from the Owlettes, because of the previously mentioned issues. But the majority of the students who were available had either never heard of Owlette meetings or had never felt like going to them, despite the best efforts of the project team. Hopefully things will pick up for the club.


All in all, the “Adopt a Fifth Grader Project” has opened many doors across iUniversity Prep. The work done by this incredible group of people will continue to shape the community of iUP for a long time to come.


“In future years, I think that we will continue running the project,” Tessa Bradley says. “Being able to work together to create the presentations and lead the meetings was a very great experience for the Owl Pals involved because it let us practice important skills that many of us don’t get to practice very often. I feel like it has a lot of potential that wasn’t fully explored this year, and I’m excited to see what we’ll end up doing with the project next year.”

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About the Contributors
Autumn Friesenhahn
Autumn Friesenhahn, Feature Staff Assistant
Hello, my name is Autumn, and I'm in 8th grade at iUniversity Prep. This is my 3rd year at iUPrep! Some hobbies of mine include fencing, playing racquetball, and making things. Outside of school, I enjoy spending my time by reading and working on things for the Owl Pals. Also, I play the cello. I'm excited to be a part of iHoot this year as a Staff Assistant.
Amirah Santos Figueroa
Amirah Santos Figueroa, Photography & Graphics Editor
My name is Amirah Santos Figueroa, and I'm a sophomore here at iUniversity Prep. This is my 3rd year at iUP and this year I will be your Photography & Graphics Editor at iHoot! I am extremely excited to start this job as I thoroughly enjoy creating graphics and collaborating with other students. Some more things I love include photography/cinematography, reading/writing, cars, and collecting vinyl records. Outside of school you'll probably find me working out, traveling, and listening to music! I'm happy to be a part of iHoot this year as the Photography & Graphics Editor and can’t wait to read and assist you guys with your graphics and articles :)

Comments (1)

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    Tessa BradleyMar 6, 2024 at 2:10 pm

    This article turned out great, Autumn! Thank you for interviewing me!