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Kirtland Central High School tries four-day freshmen orientation

Joshua Kellogg
The Daily Times

KIRTLAND — Staff at Kirtland Central High School are trying a new way of orienting incoming freshmen by hosting a four-day workshop to help them become familiar with the campus.

Members of the KC Ignite peer mentor program along with counselors and teachers are hosting activities and work sessions from Monday through Thursday to welcome the new Broncos and prepare them for the first day of school on Aug. 17.

The staff has been trying different methods of helping freshmen transition from middle school to high school.

Last year, the peer mentors spent the first day of school leading freshmen through a one-day orientation including a tour and afternoon assembly.

Brian Joe, guidance counselor and KC Ignite co-coordinator, said it was Principal Shawna Becenti's idea to try a four-day freshmen orientation three weeks before the start of school.

He said he liked having more days to work with the students but wished more students were attending.

About 90 of 210 students in the freshmen class showed up for each of the first two days of the four-day program.

"There aren't as many kids as we would have had on the first day of school," Joe said.

Junior Victoria Costnei, a peer mentor, echoed Joe's statements about the change to multiple days instead of one day.

"We are kind of confused, it was easier on the first day of school because all of the freshmen were going to be there," Costnei said.

But she said the extra time gives the freshmen more opportunities to become acquainted with each other and the layout of the school.

Students went on a tour of the building on Monday after they were assigned a KC Ignite peer mentor, who will meet with the freshmen on a weekly basis throughout the school year.

The first three days started with a fitness activity in the gym followed by three hour-long sessions taught by teachers, providing students an opportunity to become more acquainted with them.

Freshmen Sydney Chapman said the orientation has been fun and exciting, and is a great way to meet new people. She said entering high school is a big step.

"The older mentors are really helping me ease into it better than I thought I would," Chapman said

Family Consumer Science teacher Mary Rhoades said the orientation helps students see how important high school is to their future.

She encouraged students during her workshop to start thinking about a career in order to enroll in classes that would help them pursue a job following graduation.

"I'm hoping it will help our freshmen that come in, (understand) that high school is serious, you can't just blow off these classes," Rhoades said.

"They need to understand there is validity to it and it gives you an option, a step you need to do what you want when you get out of high school (and need) to support yourself."

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