”Schools help freshman students make the transition

Of all of life’s standard milestones, one of the most difficult for some young people is the transition from elementary school to high school. Many adults remember the uneasy feeling of trying to find their classrooms, making sense of a schedule, being surrounded by older students, and just wondering what was expected of them.

Catholic secondary schools attempt to make that transition as smooth as possible through various programs and meetings and orientation classes.

Camden Catholic High School in Cherry Hill, for example, uses a year-long program called Link Crew, a high school transition program created by The Boomerang Project.

“Link Crew is a year-long freshman orientation program focusing on bringing new freshmen into the community,” said Heather Crisci, vice president at Camden Catholic. “The goal is to increase freshman success in high school.”

It begins with an orientation day and each freshman is later assigned a junior or senior leader who has undergone a two-day training session.

“The Link Leaders follow-up with their freshmen throughout the year,” said Crisci. “They will make social follow-ups such as a freshmen barbecue as well as academic follow-ups throughout the first semester.”

Our Lady of Mercy Academy, an all-girls school in Newfield, uses a Big Sister program to help freshmen.

“Each senior, over the summer, was given the name of one of the 49 freshmen students coming into the academy in the fall,” said Bonnie Hammerstedt, advancement director. “The seniors made contact. In this way the freshmen will have somebody to turn to for advice. They remain big sisters for the entire year.”

The academy has been using this program for the past 30 years, Hammerstedt said.

John Borkowski, communications coordinator in the office of development at St. Augustine Prep, Richland, said the annual Brotherhood Ceremony was held on Aug. 31 where the freshman class signed their names into a wooden-bound book, “Book of the Hermits,” containing all the names of students who have attended St. Augustine. The ritual dates back to the 16th century as the induction rite of ancient Oxford in Cambridge, England.

“During Freshman Week,” said Borkowski, “the students did something different every day. They wore goofy ties or hats and T-shirts we designed for them. It was a fun week.”

There was a freshmen picnic on Sept. 17 at Hammonton Lake,” said Louise Fourney of St. Joseph High School. “And we also match seniors with freshmen who stay with them all day.”

Freshmen are polled individually during the first marking period to find out how they’re doing.

“During the summer we had freshmen/parent orientation,” said Fourney. “Teachers and administration spoke to the students during the day. In evening, they spoke to the parents.”

Kevin Quinn development director at Wildwood Catholic in North Wildwood, said only freshmen were brought in on Wednesday, the first day school.

“On the previous day there was a Freshman Orientation Day/Student Council Pizza Party,” Quinn said. “The students toured the building and they could purchase any materials they needed. They also met with the student council and some teachers.”

There are 10 Catholic secondary schools in the Diocese of Camden:

Bishop Eustace Preparatory School, Pennsauken

Camden Catholic High School, Cherry Hill

Gloucester Catholic High School, Gloucester

Holy Spirit High School, Absecon

Our Lady of Mercy Academy, Newfield

Paul VI High School, Haddon Township

Sacred Heart High School, Vineland

St. Augustine Preparatory School, Richland

St. Joseph High School, Hammonton

Wildwood Catholic High School, Wildwood

Categories: Catholic School News

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