By Katie Chong, ’18

Each year, when the newly graduated 8th graders walk the halls of UAHS for the first time as freshmen, all you can see is a cloud of confusion as they scramble to make sense of the new environment. To help with the transition to high school, seasoned upperclassmen called Bear Guides were recruited and led activities on the freshman’s first day.

Bear Guides has been an Upper Arlington tradition for the past decade and its main purpose was to bring the high school together as a community. For the freshmen, to learn that upperclassmen aren’t as intimidating as they seem; and for upperclassmen, the opportunity to impart their knowledge and experiences on younger students.

Senior Gabe Bertke has fond memories from his first day of high school with his Bear Guide. “I remember getting lost a lot and my group’s Bear Guide, Jenny, kept making jokes about the school throughout our whole tour which made us all feel a lot more at home,” said Bertke.

The class of 2018 was the last class to have Bear Guides before it was replaced by communal lectures and powerpoints in the auditorium. While the information might be similar, one important thing has been lost: a more personal connection with upperclassmen.

“Engaging with upperclassmen and talking to [them] about the school would be better than sitting and listening to adults because sometimes kids don’t like listening to adults, so I think listening to other teenagers would be a better way to learn,” said freshman Nate Erre.

Erre along with fellow freshman Josie Stewart both felt that they didn’t receive relevant advice from Principal Theado and the rest of the administration to prepare them for high school. The main focus of the lectures was internet safety and drug and alcohol awareness–a stark contrast to the personality tests, scavenger hunts and Q&A sessions that the Bear Guides had.

“The different stations weren’t helpful because it didn’t prepare me for what the high school experience would be like and the expectations that other people had for me,” said Stewart.

With the general consensus about freshman orientation and freshman-only day being not extremely helpful, should Bear Guides come back? Well that is up to the administration but the freshmen seem to prefer closer mentors to help with their transition into high school.

“I think that if you have a close mentor that would help and you can always go to the adults too, so I think having both would be better than just having one,” said Erre.