Freshmen, new students get acclimated at GCHS orientation

8/17/2011

By ANGIE HAFLICH

By ANGIE HAFLICH

ahaflich@gctelegram.com

Making the transition to high school can be a daunting time for teenagers. On Tuesday, Garden City High School held an activities fair and student orientation day to help ease this transition by helping new students get acquainted with the school, teachers and their peers prior to exposing them to the whole student body on today's first full day of classes.

An hour-long activities fair was held in the GCHS auxiliary gymnasium first thing Tuesday morning. It resembled a job fair of sorts, with tables for activities such as technical theater, ROTC, the Culture Team, Claim Your Campus, Health Occupation Student Association, and various sports and activities. The freshmen and students new to GCHS were able to walk around and check out each of the tables.

"It's just basically to show the kids what the school offers to kind of involve them in the school, so they know what's available," said Kim Costa, Freshmen Success and physical education teacher.

Adam Cassellias, social studies teacher, said the fair helps the students see what opportunities are available to them.

"It's a chance for them to get information about the different clubs and just check things out and get them fired up for the first day of high school," he said.

Cassellias also leads the extracurricular club The Culture Team, which is comprised of students from foreign countries and various nationalities such as Mexico, Vietnam, Burma, Laos and Somalia. The club focuses on these students' diversity and promotes cultural awareness.

"We have a cultural awareness week in the spring, and we have a performance where we have different groups of students from each individual culture. They perform a traditional dance, traditional music, traditional clothes, their native language. It's going to expose the student body to these new cultures and let students represent their cultures. All centered around a little diversity," Cassellias said.

The group also goes on field trips and participates in volunteer work throughout the year.

"Last year, we went to the water park in Kansas City, ate out at a Korean restaurant, went to Wichita, visited a Buddhist temple, and the new year celebration was there at a different temple, so we went and visited that," Cassellias said. "I'm originally from a small, tiny town in Wisconsin, and we don't have kids from Burma, Laos, Vietnam, Mexico and Somalia at all there. But then I came out here in Kansas, and I never would have thought this would be such a diverse place."

Jane Schneider, Health Science Academy and physical education teacher, said a strong focus on extracurricular activities and clubs is important to students succeeding in both school and future careers.

"Studies have shown that kids who are involved in extracurricular activities are more likely to stay in school because they find friends sooner, and they're obviously in school so they want to stay with their friends in school," she said. "And it's a neat thing to put on a résumé that you are part of a professional organization."

Schneider also leads the Health Occupation Student Association, in which students participate in teaching kindergartners health and safety tips, such as proper hand-washing techniques, learning how to cross the street safely and wearing safety belts.

"Our kids also sponsor a blood drive through the Red Cross every year," she said.

Paul Lappin, special education teacher and assistant wrestling coach, said that he got some names of students interested in wrestling and tried to get familiarized with their faces.

Once the activities fair was over, Costa said, the remainder of the day would be spent allowing the students to familiarize themselves with their new environment.

"For the rest of the day, they're going to be going through their classes, meeting their teachers and because both the odd and even day students are here at once today, this gives them the opportunity to meet their fellow classmates, as well," she said. "So they can get their bearings a little bit."

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