Starting high school can be a little intimidating for most students, but Westerville South High School found a way to make that transition a bit more comfortable this year. Thanks to a generous grant from Sunrise Rotary, freshmen got the opportunity to participate in a daylong orientation session before school started that featured team building exercises, motivational speakers, small group discussions, and even a pep rally. It did not end there.
South identified 42 incoming freshmen who, as eighth graders, missed a lot of school and struggled academically. They paired them with high-achieving seniors through a program called FROSH – Freshmen Relying on Senior Help. Research suggests that the first 20 - 30 days of school are incredibly important for high school success. When students attend class regularly and connect to school life through clubs and activities, they are much more likely to graduate on time with quality post-secondary plans. So for the first 25 days of school, the seniors escorted their assigned freshmen to and from every single class. As they were navigating through the crowded hallways together, friendships were formed that resulted in academic and social support. The seniors got just as much out of it as the freshmen, who indicated that both their grades and their confidence have risen. One freshman said she entered high school as an extremely shy person, but has learned, through this connection, to open up to others.
On September 19, FROSH officially ended with a lunch for participants that was donated by City BBQ. However, it is likely that the relationships that were formed will continue for a long time.