As summer was coming to an end, students desperately scribbled down their summer work, purchased their supplies, and prepared for the new school year. For upperclassman, the transition from summer to work mode was a breeze; this wasn’t their first rodeo. But for freshman, the overwhelming stress of high school had just begun.
“The feeling really hit about two days before soccer tryouts,” freshman Sam Rickwalder said. “I realized that this was the beginning of possibly the best four years of my life.”
A few years ago, BCPS added freshman orientation for all new incoming high schoolers across the county on the last Friday of summer. Orientation is led by the teachers and Comet Culture staff, an organization ran by seniors and juniors to educate the school on important local, global, and teenage issues.
“My inspiration behind becoming a Comet Culture leader was my desire to give back to Catonsville High,” junior Nusrat Tusi said.
Another junior leader, Ceili Doyle, agreed stating, “I just wanted to be a part of something that helped people.”
Before the presentation began, students were free to take a tour around the school with a Comet Culture leader as their personal guide. Once the first bell rang, students packed into the auditorium to listen to the presentation given by Principal Matt Ames, as well as CHS students and staff.
“They showed us a bunch of pictures of Comet Culture, clubs, and talked about requirements, too,” freshman Mary Cate Bryant said. “The discussion made me feel more prepared, though I felt that I already knew most of what they talked about.”
After the presentation, freshman followed their A day and B day schedule to meet their teachers and get a feel for the high school environment and expectations.
“The leaders and everyone else were a big part of calming my nerves,” Rickwalder explained. “I guess the only thing they could’ve done better was put themselves out there more.”
Many were thankful for the Comet Culture leaders help, while some students wished they took an extra step to make them feel welcome.
“I thought orientation was pretty useful. They needed more Comet Culture leaders in certain areas because many seemed to all be helping one student instead of many,” Bryant explained.
A few Comet Culture leaders agreed, arguing though orientation was a success, there were still components they could’ve worked on.
“One thing we could’ve done better was share our personal experiences of being a freshman to break the awkwardness,” Tusi said.
“If you saw someone in the hallway looking lost or uncomfortable, you should’ve gone up to them and engaged in conversation,” Riley Bennefiel, junior replied. “During future lessons, we should try to make sure to relate to the freshman and talk to them. We’re their friend, not their teacher.”
At the end of the day, orientation helped calm those first day jitters. And hearing from those who have survived and thrived during their time at CHS was a huge help.
“Enjoy it while you can. Respect, live, and love the freshman life. You don’t need to grow up yet,” junior Hannah Mueller advised.