Transfer student Orientation Day more awkward than beneficial

Grace Gyolai, Varsity Writer

The transition between junior high and senior high is a big step in life, but having to make that transition twice feels more like a frantic leap. The change as a whole may be an exciting new adventure if you spin it right, but after getting used to a routine in one school, it’s tiring to do it all over again no matter how you look at it.

For freshmen at BSM, the first day is filled with group games, meaningful survival advice and uncomfortable icebreakers. What many don’t know is that the 10th and 11th graders joining the school are also required to come to the “freshman day,” but for me the experience wasn’t filled with the same freshman enthusiasm; in fact, my experience was kind of boring.

When arriving at school, I was shuffled into the library conference room and sat down to see a dozen other nervous teenagers avoiding eye contact. The pointless small talk and fidgeting continued for minutes that seemed like hours until a bunch of important looking people in suits walked into the room.

Figures of authority like Dr. Skinner and Dr. Gyolai addressed us, but the fast influx of information didn’t leave me with particularly memorable first impressions. It was a nice attempt at making us feel included, but it was too much too fast. The only people I really needed to be introduced to on the first day were Dr. Skinner, Ms. Rasmussen, and my counselor because they directly influence my day-to-day activities at school. Other staff and faculty members should have been introduced later in the tour or gradually over time. If I don’t actually get to ask questions and become acquainted with the faculty and staff, the quick introductions hold little meaning.

After the staff and faculty were done, an army of Link Crew leaders charged in. They talked to us about who they were and what activities they were a part of. I know it’s the thought that counts, but to be honest I didn’t really care. It would have been more effective if the only Link Crew leaders we had to meet were the ones who would lead our small groups. 

The rest of the day was sort of a blur. We transfer students were split into groups and taken on a tour of the school. I have to say it was valuable to meet some of my teachers and find my locker, but unfortunately that was the only part of the day that stands out as beneficial. Throughout the time spent at BSM on the first day, confusion surpassed all other emotions.

Maybe it’s just the stress of being a new student, but I didn’t feel included in the school; I didn’t feel like the day was six hours well spent. It is necessary to get transfer students oriented with their new school, but it’s time for BSM to try a few new strategies.

When we arrive at school, the day shouldn’t start with sitting and talking. It doesn’t leave a good impression in the minds of students, and it’s just mundane. The day should start students with an activity or a tour. Anything would be better than listening to people talk for 30-45 minutes.

The transfer students also need to interact with people in their graduating class. That may mean that we meet the student council or student ambassadors. Meeting even three or four fellow students can make a surprising difference in a new student’s first day. 

BSM, like any high school, wants to seem like they are dedicated to the inclusion of new students, and they might be, but in order to display that commitment to incoming students, the administration should consider making some changes to their “freshmen day” for transfer students.