Freshmen and transfer students were welcomed into the fold last week at New Paltz and Highland high schools. Both the Huskies and the Huguenots held orientation sessions to help the newbies get adjusted to their new environs.
Parents in New Paltz gathered in the high school auditorium with their high schoolers for a special presentation on Aug. 28. Principal Barbara Clinton fielded questions, introduced key staff members and a screening of last year’s student life video was shown.
The video — by and large a comedy — started with an action chase scene through the woods, but ended up essentially showing students partying in every classroom. The principal stressed that the video was intended as a joke, but she said it also captures some of the emotion of high school.
“We do everything we can to make sure your child is, in fact, college or career ready — but that they have fun. You have to have fun to do this. It’s a lot of work. If you don’t have fun at your job — your job, my job — then that’s not going to make for a pleasant day,” Clinton said. “What you saw in the student life video really demonstrates what New Paltz High School is all about.”
Older students guided transfer students and freshmen around the halls, offering them insight about what they would face in the coming year. Parents hung back in the auditorium for inside information with the principal.
One of the most important things Clinton stressed to her audience was her availability to hear out parents with concerns about their child. The principal urged parents of new students to call — not wait for a meeting or a parent-teacher conference — if they had a concern.
“You know your child. Your child’s been with you for however many years — 13, 14 years — or older if they’re a new student coming in at 11th or 12th grade,” she said. “You know — you have that gut feeling — you know when things are not right.”
Another point of adjustment in New Paltz, Highland and most of the U.S. is the switch to the federal Common Core Standards. Parents should also ask questions if something about that newer, more rigorous system doesn’t make sense to them.
Overall, the principal wanted new students and parents to feel welcome.
“I live in the district. My daughter graduated from the high school. This is a great place to be,” Clinton said. “It’s a great place to live. It’s a great place to work. It’s a great place to have your child receive their education.”
New Paltz welcomed approximately 200 new freshman and transfer students from other districts during the Aug. 28 event. The event concluded with a barbecue dinner.
Highland’s orientation event took place on Aug. 27. However, their event was more morning-themed and featured a hot breakfast.
First day of school for both districts is the same day – Friday, Sept. 6.
Parents in New Paltz who still have questions are invited to a one-on-one meeting with Principal Clinton at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 17. For more details, call the high school at 256-4100.