Titan Tattler: Orientation, open house, and tips for a successful school year

Published 12:05 am Thursday, September 1, 2022

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By Claire Reinthaler
For the Clemmons Courier

The weeks leading up to the start of a new school year can be daunting for any high school student, but especially so for incoming freshmen.
Trust me, I’ve been there.
And while I didn’t have the luxury of attending an in-person orientation due to the pandemic, orientation always seemed like a great way to become more comfortable with West’s environment and to meet the people that you’ll be in class with for the next four years.
This year in particular was important, as it’s the first year that West will begin school fully in-person with no mask mandates. Given that it’s the first truly “normal” start to a school year since 2019, orientation held even more value than it has in a while.
This year, orientation was held the morning of Aug. 17, the same day as open house, which was held later that evening. About 90 to 100 Titan Trainers, who are all student volunteers, welcomed freshmen to campus around 7:30 a.m., and after getting assigned to groups, each led by a Titan Trainer, freshmen were escorted to West’s Performing Arts Center (PAC), where they met with the Student Government Association (SGA), as well as counselors and some of West’s administration. There was a pep rally held afterwards with West’s dance team, cheerleaders and drumline, and the National Art Honors Society had repainted West’s famous rock at the front of the school to say “Class of ‘26.”
Following the pep rally, students were split in half to switch off between touring campus and Q&As with Titan Trainers, followed by a series of activities that let students get to know their fellow freshmen, learn how to read their schedules and learn how to get lunch, before eating in the cafeteria (which, from my personal experiences, would have been useful for me to learn how to do two years ago).
Students were then able to rotate through their first semester A-Day class schedule to get a feel for how much time they had to get from place to place. Parents were also invited to attend this portion, along with parent sessions while the students were in their groups. Additional time was also given to quickly meet their other teachers, such as B-Day teachers and teachers for classes they wouldn’t have until second semester, before the day ended.
There’s no doubt in my mind that freshman orientation is highly helpful and important, but I’m sure there are still some freshmen out there who are nervous for the big first day. To make the transition a little more effortless, I have some tips about how to make your first year of high school as easy on yourself as it can be.
My first tip would be to get to know your teachers well. Class is always more fun with teachers who know you well, and the first few weeks of school are important to establish who you are as a person and student, so that your teachers know how you’re best able to learn.
Second, find people in each of your classes that you enjoy working with. They don’t have to turn out to be your best friends, but having people you feel comfortable around in class will make the class itself seem less stressful.
Third, you should always have a plan. Prepare in advance for projects and tests and plan out when you have time to do homework for different classes. This may seem like an obvious one, but it’s important to your mental health so that you don’t get overloaded.
Homework for high school classes is manageable if you budget your time wisely, and planning ahead of time also allows you to make time for extracurriculars or activities outside of school that are important to you.
Finally, in my experience, everyone at West, including students, teachers, counselors and administrators, is really welcoming and accommodating, and are always willing, if not eager to assist you in anything you need, whether it be finding your way to your next class or helping with schedule conflicts.
Never be afraid to ask for help if you need it.
As scary as it may seem now, freshmen will come to find that West has all the same aspects of any great school: teachers that love what they do, students who are eager to learn and a welcoming community that everyone has a place in.

Claire Reinthaler is the Titan Tattler for the 2022-23 school year.