08/24/10 — Parents, students take first look at schools

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Parents, students take first look at schools

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on August 24, 2010 2:35 PM

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Chris Roberts, a ninth-grader at Eastern Wayne High School, listens during the school\'s freshman orientation on Monday afternoon. The event provided information to the Class of 2014, along with a run-through of their class schedule and an activities fair.

Three hundred freshmen packed the gym at Eastern Wayne High School on Monday afternoon as part of their orientation to the high school.

The whole point was to make the incoming Class of 2014 more comfortable for their arrival on the first day of classes Wednesday, said Colleen Hennessy, a counselor at the school.

In addition to useful information -- on school policies, the dress code and ways parents could become more involved -- the three-hour session provided a trial run of their schedules and to meet teachers.

"Anticipate getting lost, anticipate all kinds of things, it's all OK," Ms. Hennessy said. "Good students when they come to high school are going to feel nervous and uncomfortable. It's normal. After about a day, you're going to feel like you have been here forever."

Upperclassmen also participated in the program, demonstrating habits that will help the newcomers "sink or swim" in school -- studying for tests, participating in extra-curricular activities, doing homework among the positive things to do -- and modeled examples of clothing considered in and out of dress code.

Ms. Hennessy reassured students of the school's reputation for success and said the ninth-grade teachers are equipped "to deal with ninth-grade issues."

"This should be a fun time in your life," she told the audience. "The smoother we can make this for you, the happier we're all going to be."

"High school's fun, you guys," one of the upperclassmen shouted out before the group dismissed.

"You're gonna be fine," another said.

Sherri Hobbs, an assistant principal, told the newest group of students that while they are freshmen at the school, they will also be referred to as the Class of 2014.

"Wouldn't it be great if you could all make a point to graduate in 2014?" Ms. Hennessy asked. "Remember, it's a fresh start ... Right now you have an opportunity to be whatever kind of student you want to be. We want to help you achieve whatever goals you have for yourself."

Heidi Sauls accompanied her daughter, Rachel, a freshman, and youngest child, Macy, a second-grader at Eastern Wayne Elementary School.

Rachel had a positive first impression of her new school.

"It seems better than eighth grade," she said.

Mrs. Sauls said she was impressed with the orientation session.

"It was very nice," she said afterwards. "This is my third daughter, and I feel much more prepared."

Chris Roberts, 14, was flanked by his parents, Chris and Litisha Roberts. He is the oldest of their three children.

"We both graduated from here," Mrs. Roberts said as they escorted their son to homeroom. "It's kind of surreal. It's different finally getting to this point."

Roberts also works at the school as a custodian and coaches football and girls basketball.

"I told my son, enjoy it because before you know it, you're going to be walking across the stage (to get a diploma)," he said.

Chris was one of the fortunate ones whose four classes were all in the same building, easing the six-minute time allotted to navigate the daily schedule.

In the fall, he will be taking principles of business, sports and entertainment, Algebra I and world history. The schedule is part of the four-year track for college.

"I plan to open up my own business," Chris said.

"He says he wants to be Bill Gates," said his mom, as her son smiled in agreement.

Chris was quiet as he moved from classroom to classroom, admitting later to feeling a little trepidation.

"I think the algebra's going to be hard," he said. "Everything else is going to be OK."

Mom had no problem confessing her own jitters as her eldest starts high school.

"I'm nervous but I know that (my husband) is here," she said. "It's just the whole, that it's so new. I just want him to gain the confidence and feel comfortable."