freshman day

by hannah BENSON, ’15

Upperclassmen help freshmen acclimate to high school on Orientation Day

A bustling auditorium. The nervous mumbles of freshmen scanning the horizon for familiar faces. Electric fans straining to keep the ninety-degree heat from settling in. A pack of upperclassmen in dark gray shirts flitting from clump to clump of freshmen, searching for their assigned charges.

It’s Aug. 20, the annual Freshmen Orientation Day––a day for freshmen to learn their way around the school with their upperclassmen helpers while the rest of the student body slumbers.

The current program for upperclassmen looking to assist and provide a reassuring presence to freshmen is Bear Guides, which replaced the previous program, Link Crew, two years ago after the latter was lost to budget cuts.

This year marks guidance counselor Elizabeth Hughes’ first time as a Bear Guide supervisor.

“[After we lost] Link Crew…there was a definite gap in the freshman transition,” Hughes said. “We wanted to help provide a smooth transition and make it as seamless as we could.”

In return for acclimating freshmen to the high school, upperclassmen get community service hours and a chance to practice their leadership skills.

Bear Guides complete the bulk of their duties on Freshmen Orientation Day, when they fetch books, give freshmen a tour of the high school and initiate bonding games. Throughout the year, they provide a friendly hallway presence for freshmen, supervise freshmen-only events such as Freshmen Tailgate, Move Night and Cookies and Cram.

Junior Katie Kang just began her first year as a Bear Guide. She chose to pursue the program to carry on the standard her Link Crew leaders set when she was a freshman.

“I wanted to help the freshmen because my Link Crew leaders really helped me,” Kang said. “They showed me around the school and gave me advice.”

Freshman Lily Goldberg enjoyed the orientation day program and felt that it eased her transition into the high school.

“My Bear Guides were really helpful,” she said. “They made me feel comfortable in the school and even took extra time to show me around to my classes.”

Like Kang, Goldberg’s Bear Guides have inspired her to take part in freshmen acclimation programs throughout the year.

“It would be really nice to help those freshmen who were as scared as I was,” Goldberg said.

Junior Rose Paulsen began her first year as a Bear Guide Leader. Like most Bear Guides, she was drawn to the program for the chance to give freshmen the best first impression of the high school as possible. Unlike the typical Bear Guide, her efforts as a Leader are directed more on ensuring the program runs smoothly than on connecting with individual freshmen.

Paulsen, while satisfied with the agenda overall, hopes the group will become more energetic and focused in the future.

“On [Orientation Day] it seemed like some Bear Guides either didn’t care that much about making the freshmen feel welcome and excited or they just didn’t know how to go about doing that,” Paulsen said.

Like Paulsen, Hughes hopes to see more improvement from the program.

“We are hoping we can offer more in depth training and additional leadership training,” Hughes said. “The possibilities of Bear Guides are endless, depending on the leaders and their dedication and commitment.”

Image caption: Freshmen Sarah Dabbs and Jordyn Stone participate in a group bonding activity on Freshmen Orientation Day. Bear Guides led freshmen through this itinerary on Aug. 20 to prepare them for their first day of school.

Image by Sasha Dubson