A herd of 600 soon-to-be high school freshmen got a break from their middle school routines Friday to take part in Soon To Be a Raider Day. As part of Reed High School’s student-to-student mentor program, the day gives eighth graders a sneak preview of what their lives will be like when they begin high school. With help from 200 Reed seniors and juniors, teachers and administrators bustled the curious, anxious and rambunctious eighth graders around the high school in an effort to make their transition in the fall year easier.
“Research shows that the more times (students) have been on campus (before they start) the better they’ll do in high school,” said Reed vice principal Jeana Curtis.
New freshmen have a lot of challenges, said senior Catherine Saiz, the president of the Reed mentor program. First, there is getting familiar with a new set of halls and classrooms on a much larger campus with more students, Saiz said. Kids will be walking longer distances between classes and probably making more stops at their locker to get books and binders, she said.
In addition, freshmen have to overcome preconceived ideas they get from their peers and movies about what a cruel, unforgiving place high school can be.
“We let them know that it’s not really scary,” Saiz said.
During their visit to Reed, eighth graders visited classrooms, spoke with teachers, got their registration paperwork, took photos for student ID cards, talked to an adminstrator about discipline and learned about athletics, clubs and other activities.
Saiz said she was part of the first freshman class to benefit from the mentor program. She said it helped her cope with feeling overwhelmed about entering high school.
“I remember thinking it was huge,” Saiz said. “I remember feeling like I was this tiny little person in this big sea of people.”
Saiz said she is still friends with her mentor from her freshman year. She said that she makes a special effort to make the eighth graders feel comfortable and ask questions, but sometimes doing so requires getting them away from peer pressure.
“When they’re with their friends they’re trying to be cool, be a big eighth grader. You’ll ask the group if anybody has any questions and no one raises their hand,” she said. “But when you get them alone they have a lot of questions.”
Reed High will also have an orientation day in August when freshmen will receive their class schedules, learn exactly where to go for each class and be assigned their mentor who will be their personal guide for the year.
Jared Emerson, an eighth-grader from Mendive Middle School, was excited to talk to one of the football coaches since he hopes to play for the freshman team in the fall. Emerson’s older sister, Erin, is a junior at Reed, so between her help and the school’s help he thinks he’ll be just fine.
“Even though it’s easy to get lost, they have a good mentor system,” Emerson said, “so I’m not too worried.”