Freshmen get jump on navigating Lyons Township High School
Students work together to keep a beachball in the air during Freshman Experience Day at Lyons Township High School. | Dan Luedert~Sun-Times Media
Updated: September 24, 2012 6:05AM
Like carving up a family-sized pizza, upperclassmen and staff presented just-right slices of life at Lyons Township High School to about 1,000 incoming students attending Freshman Experience Day.
The south campus hallways in Western Springs were a blur at times of bold turquoise T-shirts urging the Class of 2016 to “Follow your dreams.” Student leaders and staff wore bright pink shirts as they walked backward and pointed out essentials on tours of the sprawling building.
Divided into 47 groups, the freshmen rotated through a variety of activities and stations, including a presentation on clubs, activities and sports, a session on LT pride and traditions and a program on making good choices.
A fourth rotation got the kids up and moving in the center courtyard with hula hoops, jump ropes, giant beach balls, tennis balls and twisting human chains. Persistence was evident as one group repeatedly attempted to have all 19 members jump rope together, testing the patience of the twirlers.
“It’s a wonderful mix of letting them bond together emotionally, physically and intellectually,” said social worker Joan Cushing, who stood on the sidelines in the courtyard. “These are simple games out here anyone can do. It allows them to be goofy and silly, and it’s student run.”
Cushing said the role of student leaders is vital to the orientation’s success. Sophomore through senior volunteers spent Aug. 14 in training before freshmen arrived the following day in preparation for the first day of classes Aug. 20.
The day isn’t just about fun and games, said Donna Bredrup, division chairwoman for student services. It also helps prepare newcomers for academic success.
“High school can be so nerve-racking, especially coming from a smaller middle school and joining a class of 1,000 in a school of 2,000,” she said. “This day is just for them. They can get lost as much as they want and ask as many questions, because everyone else is thinking the same thing.”
Jeanne Widing, student assistance program coordinator, said freshmen who’ve gone through the program over the past 14 years often report making friendships that last over all four years.
Freshman Sabrina Belshaw of Burr Ridge said she appreciated input from the student leaders.
“I like how they use people who go to this school instead of teachers,” Belshaw said. “It’s nice hearing it from their perspective.”