EDWARDSVILLE, Illinois — Hundreds of students at Liberty Middle School in Edwardsville, Illinois, had first-day jitters Tuesday.

"A simple smile can change some one’s day" said Katlin Talley, the school's new prevention counselor.

And with a new school year comes a new plan to make students feel welcomed. Talley is part of that plan. As part of her new job, she will promote a healthy social, emotional, and academic middle school experience.

And for the first day of school, leaders wore T-shirts that say "I will be your friend."

"I recently saw an article where an elementary boy had choose to make a shirt that had this saying on it," Talley said, "and I thought what a great thing to bring to Liberty Middle School."

The program is also designed to empower students to take a leadership role, because it wasn't just the adults wearing the shirts.

"So just growing them now as they grow older, they are confident and willing to take those things. Because leaders are willing to get things done," said Principal Beth Crumbacher.

District leaders and staff members are hoping a full-time prevention counselor will fill the gaps, making sure students don’t fall through the cracks.

So take a lesson from Liberty Middle School kids, reach out and make someone fell welcomed.

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