After a summer of quiet and darkness, the auditorium at Thomson High School seemed to come to life with students and their parents at freshmen orientation Monday evening.
"We are so pleased to see so many here tonight," Assistant Principal Lynn Cato said. "Your presence here tells us how important your children are to you and that you want your children to be successful."
All three assistant principals - Ms. Cato, Cecil Strong and Michael Smallwood explained the policies and procedures, many that are different from what the students were accustomed to in middle school.
"I'm excited and nervous," said freshman Tirrell Harris. "It's good to finally get out of junior high, but I'm worried about getting in trouble."
To head off trouble before it can start, Mr. Smallwood explained the top three areas where freshmen typically mess up: forgetting their identification badge, not following the dress code and tardiness.
"Please, please pay attention," he said. "Because you will be amazed at how you will hear different misconceptions circulating among the students... We tried to simplify the rules so it is easy for the students to check themselves."
Class schedules are another new concept the freshmen will face, Ms. Cato said. She explained the high school's A/B rotating block classes, where the eight classes are divided into two four-class days. Ms. Cato also stressed the 90-day semester schedule, in which students only have 90 days to pass the class rather than the whole year they had in middle school.
"Please understand that education is not a passive process," she said. "It is an active process you have to take part in - and parents, we have many opportunities to help your child succeed, including free after school tutoring every Tuesday and Thursday."
After the presentation, Senior Adopters took the students and their parents on a tour of the building. Ms. Cato said the seniors were chosen by their teachers for the position because they showed consistent leadership abilities and passed all five parts of the state graduation tests.
"So they've been knocking people's socks off for a long, long time," she said as she introduced them.
The teachers were not at the orientation as they do not begin working until next Tuesday, and supply lists were not yet available. But the parents and freshmen were still grateful for the orientation to the next phase of their education.
"I like the way they do this," said Lynne McTier, who was there with her son, Dillon. "We didn't have this with my older son, and this helps."
There are over 350 students registered in this year's freshmen class, and School Superintendent Mark Petersen is excited about the numbers.
"It's a great, great crowd," he said. "Mark my words, in four years, this will be the largest graduating class in the history of Thomson High School."
Students can meet their teachers and get their supply lists at open house from 6-8 p.m. on Aug. 2.