Freshman Orientation Gives Incoming Students a Preview of Walpole High

Meagan Sundstrom

A Student Council member welcomes incoming freshmen as they arrive at Orientation.
A Student Council member welcomes incoming freshmen as they arrive at Orientation.

The transition from middle school to high school is an experience that can be very difficult for incoming freshmen  adjusting to new courses, sitting next to new people in classes, and finding the way around a brand new building can all be challenging tasks for any new student.  Walpole High School’s Freshman Orientation is a relatively new program in which the guidance program invites rising freshmen to come into WHS the day before school officially starts in order to gain a better idea of what to expect for their high school experience.  This year’s program was the fourth time which the high school offered the Orientation to incoming students.

On Tuesday, September 2 at 10:30 a.m., the Class of 2018 was welcomed by NHS and Student Council members  called Rebel Ambassadors  to get a glimpse of their school for the next four years.  First, the incoming students were greeted by a loud, chanting tunnel of spirited upperclassmen before attending a brief assembly in the auditorium.  After learning about a brand new class schedule and how it rotates through a seven day cycle, the freshmen dispersed to their homerooms, where they received copies of their course schedules.  With the assistance of about two Ambassadors per classroom, the freshmen learned where their homeroom is located, met their homeroom teachers, and had the opportunity to ask any general questions that they had.

After their meetings in homeroom, the students went through all seven class periods as the upperclassmen volunteers directed them to the right classrooms.  With about ten minutes allotted to each period, the students were able to meet their teachers, talk with their peers, and see high school class settings.  One of the biggest differences between middle school and high school is that high school classes are significantly longer, so having to adjust to this new schedule can be a difficult acculturation for incoming students.  With only five periods per school day as opposed to six in middle school, students often struggle with getting used to the new schedule rotation.  “Visiting all of my classes during Orientation helped me learn how to get around the school,” freshman Patrick Lanahan said. “I definitely felt more prepared for the first day of school after getting used to my new schedule.”

To conclude the day, the incoming freshmen proceeded back to homeroom before they attended either the activity fair or a pizza party.  At the activity fair in the school gym, upperclassmen set up tables and advertised the available clubs, sports, and activities for students to join.  The freshmen walked around and gained insight and information about the different club offerings at Walpole High School, such as Student Council, Film, and Mock Trial.  Additionally, the freshmen could talk to leaders of each activity and sign up if they were interested.  Lanahan said, “The activity fair was helpful because I got to see all of the clubs and sports at the high school and talk to upperclassmen who have participated in these activities for multiple years.”  While half of the homerooms attended the activity fair, the other half went to the school cafeteria to experience walking through the lunch line and eating lunch at Walpole High.  The school’s cooking staff prepared pizza for the freshmen and a large speaker played music as the new students mingled with their future classmates.

Both the Rebel Ambassadors and event coordinators consider the Orientation a helpful means of transition to the high school for incoming students.  WHS Guidance Counselor Ms. Lisa Conley, the event leader, believes the orientation program was beneficial to the rising freshmen because it made them more comfortable. She said, “I think this year was definitely successful.  Overhearing the interactions between the students and volunteers and the conversations in the homerooms showed how all of the faculty and volunteers accommodated the freshmen.”

Based on freshmen’s positive reactions, the Freshman Orientation was a successful way to give incoming freshmen an in-depth look at student life at Walpole High School.  This year’s orientation aimed at helping the freshman understand several aspects of the school such as knowing how the schedule rotates, learning where classrooms are located, or getting involved in clubs and sports.  With the help of teachers and upperclassmen volunteers, this year’s Freshman Orientation program eased students through the difficult transition from middle school to high school.