At XLI, Incoming Seniors Learn That To Lead Is To Give

Eye contact, a smile, a simple hello in the hallway can make all the difference in one’s day.

On Wednesday at the Xavier Leadership Institute (XLI), Dean of Students Nick Cerreta reminded the incoming seniors gathered who will be Big Falcons of their awesome responsibility. The Big Falcon-Little Falcon program, in which a senior is paired with one or more freshmen, is a Xavier High School tradition.

Who doesn’t remember being a freshman, a little unsure, a bit hesitant? Certainly many of the seniors gathered in the gym remember how they felt. And now it is their turn to make the freshmen feel comfortable, feel connected.

“There is nothing better than being a role model, an older brother to these students,” Cerreta reminds the seniors. “It should make you feel good as a person because you are doing God’s work and making someone’s life better.”

The relationship starts with a letter written by the seniors to his Little Falcon or Falcons. Then they get together for Falcon Blast, a fun day that starts to make the freshmen feel like this is their new home. This year's Falcon Blast is Aug. 26. Once in school, the Big Falcons are asked to accompany the Little Falcons to the SAC Fair, to encourage them get involved in the many sports, clubs and activities Xavier offers.  

But it should not and must not end there, Cerreta reminds the Big Falcons. Check in with the freshmen, ask them if they need help in any way, give them guidance, give them time. Give of yourself.

He uses the analogy of being a farmer: you prepare the soil, plant the seeds, water and fertilize them, weed the area and nurture growth and development until full maturity. It’s a process. It’s work. Do the work, and the crop will be bountiful. Neglect the crop and it will not.

“You reap what you sow … there are no shortcuts,” Cerreta says.  

And you never know where the relationship can lead. Senior Nate Barber remains in contact with his Big Falcon.

“I want to be just like mine, reach out all the time, and hopefully I’ll have the same relationship I had with mine so that four years later we’re still friends, still talking to each other,” Barber said.  

They stayed connected. Connections and bonds, enduring personal relationships, the heart of a Xaverian education. Later Wednesday all those gathered at XLI heard from various alumni.

“We impress upon kids the legacy of Xavier High School, and those that have gone before them, the kids that have carried that legacy, receiving it from someone else and passing it on,” Director of Campus Ministry Peter Lyons said. “Having the alumni here shows that connection to the past. The alumni show them what success looks like, but that they are a part of a much, much larger picture than just the Class of 2021.”