Hinsdale South program helps new students feel at home
Transfer student Kianara Franklin, a junior, signs in at the Ambassador Club/Transfer Student picnic held in the Hinsdale South courtyard. | Sandy Illian Bosch—Sun-Times Media
Updated: October 7, 2012 6:05AM
DARIEN — Calculus can be daunting. Biology can be downright frightening.
But for the nearly 50 new students at Hinsdale South High School, nothing is more terrifying than lunchtime.
“That’s the scariest time of the day,” said Ellen Jacobson, faculty sponsor of the Hinsdale South Ambassador Club.
Thirty-eight friendly sophomores, juniors and seniors have volunteered to make the way a little easier for more than 40 students who moved into Darien, Willowbrook and Burr Ridge since school ended last year.
As school began this year, invitations went out to 47 sophomores, juniors and seniors new to the school, asking them to join members of the Ambassador Club for a cookout in the school’s courtyard on the first Friday of the new school year. Many gathered at picnic tables while they enjoyed hot dogs and conversation with new classmates.
“It’s very informal,” Jacobson said. “I buy the hot dogs. The kids do everything else.”
Junior Kianara Franklin moved to Willowbrook from Chicago over the summer.
“I feel like a freshman again,” said Franklin, who spoke with members about cheerleading at South.
“It helps if they can talk to someone who knows their way around,” said senior Vanessa Niestrom, a two-year member of the Ambassador Club.
Contact between the ambassadors and transfer students will continue throughout the year with quarterly lunches. As new students come in, Jacobson will pair them up with a member of the Ambassador Club. And students who need a little extra companionship or guidance can always find a friend among the ambassadors, Jacobson said.
On Sept. 7, student ambassadors will join their newest classmates for the first Hornet Academy of the year. Held several times throughout the year, Hornet Academy helps to acclimate students to the school. They learn school rules, set up their email accounts, and have a chance to ask questions of current students.
Members of the Ambassador Club share information about the best pizza places, unwritten rules of homecoming, and other information that can help new students feel more at home.
New students are part of every new school year, and Jacobson said she hopes this year’s new students will be next year’s Ambassadors.
Senior Roderick Walker remembers what it felt like to be new to the school. He was a transfer student last year.
“I didn’t talk to anybody,” he said.
But members of the Ambassador Club reached out to him and soon, he was feeling like part of the crowd.
This year, he’s the one helping new students feel welcome.