Jon Austria — The Daily Times  Shania John check out her new locker as Tiana Aspaas looks on, Monday, August 18, 2014, during the first day of school
Jon Austria — The Daily Times Shania John check out her new locker as Tiana Aspaas looks on, Monday, August 18, 2014, during the first day of school at Kirtland Central High School in Kirtland.

KIRTLAND — Kirtland Central High School freshmen received a warm welcome to Bronco Country Monday during a day of activities, presentations and tours as part of the school's peer mentoring program for incoming students.

The KC Ignite program was the start of a freshman orientation designed to help students transition from middle school to high school by assigning each of the nearly 199 freshmen a peer mentor to work with them throughout the school year.

Monday's activities provided the opportunity for the freshmen to get acquainted with their mentors, participate in several activities like a ropes course, and hear presentations about school rules and policies by school staff. Freshmen start classes Tuesday while the other grades started on Monday.

Jon Austria — The Daily Times  Freshman Neil George checks his schedule,  Monday, August 18, 2014, during a school tour at Kirtland Central High
Jon Austria — The Daily Times Freshman Neil George checks his schedule, Monday, August 18, 2014, during a school tour at Kirtland Central High School in Kirtland.

Guidance counselor Brian Joe said the 26 peer mentors in the Ignite KC program were assigned about 10 students each and the mentors plan to meet with their students three times a week in 15 minute sessions throughout the school year.

In the sessions, the mentors play games with the students to bond with them, give short lessons on topics like academics and advise them on homework and grade issues.

Senior Trinity Sells has been involved in the peer mentor program since it started three years ago and believes the program would have benefited her when she was an incoming freshman.

"It would have helped me with my grades and (to) become more open and social," Sells said. "It's been amazing. I've been connecting with my freshmen and I was looking forward to getting a new group this year."

Senior Jonathan Charley is mentoring freshmen for the first time this year and he is curious what he'll learn from the students.

"I think what the freshmen will teach me is to handle situations I'm not normally comfortable handling," Charley said. "I need to be a positive influence in their lives."

After lunch, the freshmen met in the Brooks/Isham Performing Arts Center for a series of talks by school staff and other speakers.

Principal Shawna Becenti spoke about the high expectations she had for the students and how to prepare the students to be ready for college or careers upon their graduation.

Freshmen received their schedules during the presentations and peer mentors gave the new students a tour of the school.

The freshmen learned where their classes were and where their lockers will be for the school year.

During the tour, freshmen Larissa Rocke said she appreciated the orientation program and that it was helping her adjust to the new school.

"I think it's actually pretty good because it's our first time here and (we're) touring the school," Rocke said.

Joshua Kellogg covers education for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627 or jkellogg@daily-times.com. Follow him on Twitter @jkelloggdt.