To help new students adjust to the change of becoming freshman, Guilderland High School held its first Welcome to High School Celebration on Tuesday, Sept. 12 with a few changes.
This year's orientation featured a disc jockey, food and a freshman rush, to encourage the new students to get involved with school clubs.
In the past, the freshman orientation was more straight-forward with not as much focus on the social aspect.
It wasn't that celebratory mood," said Lisa Patierne, the ninth grade dean of students.
"What we're trying to do is help kids bridge the gap between middle school and high school," said Patierne. "It's hard going to middle school where they're on the teams " their homebase " to come to the high school with 1,800 kids."
Patierne said one of the goals of the orientation night is to help the students feel more connected to what's going on in the high school.
"The research says the kids that are the most connected are the most successful," said Patierne.
One way the school hopes to build that connection is through the Ninth-Grade Advisory Program, part of which is made up of student volunteers, Advisory Transition People (ATP).
"They help foster a sense of community," said Patierne.
An ATP, Jillian Rhoades, a junior, said, "We get them to know the school."
Rhoades said a part of her job is to make the new students comfortable with their new surroundings and advise them on problems.
"We would help them achieve whatever they need," said Rhoades, who added that she wished the program was in existence when she came to the high school.
"It would have been a good thing," she said.
Cindy Forte, mother of freshman twin girls, said the orientation was a significant improvement from when her older daughter, a senior, arrived at the high school.