Orientation helps incoming freshmen to start off on the right foot

By Gregory A. Scibelli - Staff Writer
Windsor - posted Thu., Aug. 18, 2011
Freshman English teacher Lynda Reitman assists a student in the cafeteria during the orientation. Photos by Gregory A. Scibelli.
Freshman English teacher Lynda Reitman assists a student in the cafeteria during the orientation. Photos by Gregory A. Scibelli.

Windsor High School Vice Principal Lyn Holzman believes that freshman year can be intimidating and cause anxiety, especially in the unprepared student. She also believes every student, no matter their background or previous academic and disciplinary history, has the opportunity to come to the high school and be successful.

She delivered that message and more advice at the Freshman Orientation program held Aug. 17 at WHS, helping introduce more than 200 students to their new educational environment without the distraction of 900 older students in the building. Students toured the high school building, learned about school rules and policies, received their schedules, and met some of their teachers. They were introduced to key support staff members, including technology support teacher Dan Phelon, and learned about the extra-curricular activities offered by the school.

Holzman said the orientation is a great way to introduce the transition to high school and it prepares the freshmen to hit the ground running when they come to school on Aug. 30. “I want them to know that high school success is in their hands,” Holzman said. “They should believe that they can accomplish anything they put their minds to.”

“We are here to give you the information you need to be successful,” Holzman told the incoming freshman students. “It is up to you to show up, listen, and take in the information. We [the faculty] already have it, and we want to give it to you so that you can do things and have opportunities.”

She challenged students who have not taken their academics seriously in the past to get a new start at the high school. “If you were not a great student in middle school,” she said, "you have crossed the road to the high school and you can re-invent yourself as a student. You can earn the grades you know you are capable of earning and become a successful student. Here at the high school, you are allowed be selfish about your education.”

Freshman English teacher Lynda Reitman organized the event, coordinating faculty volunteers to help with tours and introductions, and cafeteria staff to serve snacks at the end of the program. She also credited the office staff for their hard work printing out schedules and information for the students to take with them and study prior to the start of school. “It’s really a ‘whole building’ effort,” she said. Teaching five freshman English classes, Reitman wants to make sure the new high school students have the necessary tools to begin their new journey successfully.

Phelon introduced students to the use of the media center and talked about proper computer and technology use in the high school.

Principal Russell Sills says the success of the Freshman Orientation can be seen when school opens up on Aug. 30. “We can tell when they come into school on the first day that they feel a bit better getting around the building,” said Sills. “It helps for them to come see the building in a relaxed environment, without 900 other students in the other grades here.”

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