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Opinion: Is Eighth Grade Orientation in January too early?

Eighth+graders+and+their+families+browse+the+many+booths+at+this+years+Eight+Grade+Orientation
Eighth graders and their families browse the many booths at this years Eight Grade Orientation

Eighth graders and their families browse the many booths at this years Eight Grade Orientation

Assistant Principal Joe O'Brien

Assistant Principal Joe O'Brien

Eighth graders and their families browse the many booths at this years Eight Grade Orientation

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Eighth Grade Orientation is a night for future students to see, first-hand, all the activities that Vernon Hills High School has to offer. It also gives high schoolers in said activities a chance to “recruit” future students to join their club or sport. While having the activities fair in January appears to be early, it is the only logical time to have it.

It has always seemed odd that Eighth Grade Orientation was in January when school starts in mid-August. But, having it this early gives future students an early opportunity to see what activities their next school has to offer.

Freshman David Floroiu said that having Eighth Grade Orientation in January is very effective because it “gives students an insight into the high school life” as well as the activities available to them.

“I remember when I was an 8th grader, I was really excited to come see all the activities and events,” Floroiu said.

I, personally, don’t remember too much, if anything, from my eighth grade orientation, but I have been there to “recruit” girls for the swim team the past two years. Eighth graders come into the activities fair with their eyes wide, popping out to see the main gym nearly filled with booths of different clubs and sports. Eighth graders may be so overwhelmed that they don’t even know what to sign up for.

Freshman Emma Harmata mentioned that she never knew that VHHS had so many clubs and regrets not signing up for more.

“People should really take advantage of how many options we have,” Harmata (9) said.

Sometimes I wish I could be more involved in clubs, as well. Unfortunately, my time is very limited outside of school, which makes it very hard to be committed — something Floroiu encourages students to think about before joining a new club or sport.

Best Buddies is a club that I have wanted to be more involved in for a majority of my time spent here. I have also been very interested in Young Life, but typically can’t make the times when they meet.

But, it’s not like I haven’t been involved at VHHS. The past four years, I have swum and run track at the Varsity level. I am also sitting here writing this article for the school’s newspaper. So, I may not remember much from my Eighth Grade Orientation, but I have a chance to leave an impression on future students by being there and piquing their interest in something they might not have thought about.

Last year, it seemed to me like we had recruited many girls to come out and join the team at the beginning of the year. However, when the time came for the first practice in August, there were fewer people than expected. Of course, there were some of our “definite” returning swimmers on vacation, but no more than 25 girls were present on the first day.

After the activities fair in mid-January, there are about seven months before the start of the new school year. That’s a long time, and a long enough time for future students to forget what they signed up for on that January night.

So, why not have the activities fair at Freshman Orientation, just a few days before school starts? The activities that piqued their interest would be fresh in their minds and start within the first few weeks of school.

Ms. Beagle, the Student Activities Director, explained exactly why the activities fair is in January.

“The activity fair is in January to allow students and their parents to learn about the academic programs and start the registration process,” Ms. Beagle said. “Students and their parents can see how their academic day will be complemented with extracurricular activities.”

Having orientation in January is effective by giving students a chance to see the activities they’re interested in and how this will affect their course choices. Pushing the activity fair to August also presents the problem of having to get many students back to the area a few days early to be at those booths, as well as tour guides to take the freshman around the school.

So, while having it in January may seem early, it is the best option for current students and staff, as well as future students and families.

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