First Day of School: Orientation Program Replaces Mini Day

By Lauren Sorensen, Editor in Chief

For the first time in decades, WBHS students attended a full day on the first day of school.

This broke the tradition of “Mini Day” in which everyone attended a shortened schedule on the first day at East and West High. In the past, sophomores, juniors, and seniors attended only in the morning and freshmen only in the afternoon on the first day of school.

This change accompanies the new week of Resource Time activities to welcome students back to school.

“We did not really get rid of Mini Day,” said Janelle Townsend, assistant principal. Townsend said the new format allows for more in-depth activities. “Welcome Week,” which included presentations during the week and a pep rally last Friday, ended today.

Instead of freshmen attending the afternoon of the first day of school alone to get acquainted with the high school campus, a separate orientation was set up for Aug. 19, during which ninth graders completed a variety of activities.

“We were able to get the freshmen in, they were able to know exactly where their homeroom was, they were all given a map before they left, they all had their schedule with their locker number and their combination, they all went to their locker on that day, they all physically opened their locker on that day,” Townsend said, referring to the freshmen orientation. After orientation, freshman had a week and a half before the first day to come into the building and go through their schedules while locating their rooms, Townsend said.

“We did not really get to find our classes, we just kind of found out where the cafeteria and gyms were. It was cool to see the upperclassman’s perspective on high school though,” said Anna Koehn, West freshman.

Madison Jochims, West freshman, said the orientation was not very helpful. “[The tour guides] should go through the hallways more, in my group we just spent the whole time walking around,” Jochims said.

“We did not really get rid of Mini Day.”
– Janelle Townsend, assistant principal

The decision to change the format of “Mini Day” was an administrative decision based on input from student groups within the high school, according to Townsend. Townsend stated that at the end of last year, each administrator met with teacher-recommended students of their assigned grade levels. Among the topics discussed was a desire for increased school spirit and a need for more information.

“I thought the pep rally was really fun on Friday. It was cool to see the talents in the school,” Koehn said.

The “Welcome Week” allows for more discussion on what the uniform expectations are in the building, Townsend said. “Each grade level is unique, this way we don’t have to lump all [students] in the auditorium at one time,” Townsend said.

The change was also set in place in order to help students truly understand what the Compass Team is about, according to Townsend. The Resource Time lessons during the “Welcome Week” were set in place for this purpose.

“The whole Compass card thing was a little tedious because they just kept saying the same thing,” Jochims said.

Many upperclassmen didn’t like the change.

“I think [Welcome Week] was a good idea, but not everyone truly participates,” said Katie Hall, West junior, referring to the week of activities and presentations seen during Resource Time.

“It is just the same stuff we covered last year,” West junior Emily Schmitt said.

“From an administrative standpoint, we were trying to be proactive with the incoming freshmen, we had heard that there was a very difficult group of students coming in,” Townsend said.  Townsend also stated that within the first three or four days of school there have been fewer discipline referrals and fewer students coming into the office with questions and concerns, which is data that Townsend said shows that “things have gone a lot smoother.”

Townsend said there will be a survey in Resource Time the third week of school in order to obtain student feedback on the changes.

(Video: West ninth graders Anna Koehn and Mikayla Miller speak about the new freshman orientation program. Interview by Lauren Sorensen, Editor in Chief.)

Mini Day letter sent to incoming ninth graders in 1988. Photograph courtesy of Stacy Beltmann, kindergarten teacher at Fair Park Elementary and 1992 graduate of East High.

Mini Day letter sent to incoming ninth graders in 1988. Photograph courtesy of Stacy Beltmann, kindergarten teacher at Fair Park Elementary and 1992 graduate of East High.

Leave a comment

Filed under School News and Features

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s