Focus on Freshmen program begins its second year

Principal Kristin Robbins and Assistant Principal Craig McMillen talk to freshmen during the Focus on Freshmen programming held during study halls. (Photo by Emma Magee)

The high school’s Focus on Freshmen program, designed to help freshmen adjust to high school life, started its second year with a session on Tuesday, Oct. 20. 

Principal Kristin Robbins said the program meetings cover study strategies, time management tips, what resources to use if the students are struggling with a class and check-ins regarding the freshmen’s social and emotional health. The meetings take place once a week during freshmen study halls, but if a student does not have a study hall, their session will be held during the second half of lunch, Robbins said.

She explained that each session will be led by a different speaker, including herself, Assistant Principal Craig McMillen, guidance counselors David Leland and Carrie Washburn, college counselor Stephanie Krosnosky and Nationwide Children’s counselor Casey Mehl. 

Robbins said she got the initial idea for the program from hearing upperclassmen talk about what they wish they had known as freshmen. 

“The transition from middle school is challenging,” she said. “The students are going from standards-based grades to regular grades.”

The program was implemented in the summer of 2019 in conjunction with the new cell phone policy, Robbins added. She explained that the current sophomore class could not use their phones in middle school or leave their study halls, so the implementation of the program and policy didn’t change things for the students.

Last year, the program lasted for the whole first semester, Robbins said, and this year the sessions will be held during the second quarter and some of the third quarter because of the hybrid learning format. 

Freshman Dylan Goldberg said that the difference in workload from middle school to high school has been the hardest adjustment for him, but he feels that the program will help him with time management skills and the overall transition into high school.

“We came from middle school where we had simple and easy homework based on what we learned in class that day, versus the homework this year [which] is more time consuming and expands on what we learned in class that day,” Goldberg said. 

However, freshman Emily Gunther feels that the content of the sessions will not be as helpful to her in the second quarter because she already figured out effective ways to study and how to manage her time by the end of the first quarter.

“In the beginning of the first quarter, I was so overwhelmed with work, and the time management and study tips would have been extremely helpful,” Gunther said.

Freshman Izzy Carleton added that she wishes the sessions did not take up her work time because it causes her stress to not get her work done.  

“The administration is telling us how we can better use our study hall time while they are taking up our study hall time,” Carleton stated. 

Leland said it is a good sign that the freshmen are feeling stressed about losing some of their work time because it means that they are using their study hall time wisely. Study hall is important for students, but it is also one of the only times that the administration can spend time with the freshmen, he explained. 

“It’s crucial that we connect with the students and make sure that they are not just focusing on the here and now of next period or today or tomorrow, but bigger picture academic planning and things that they want to accomplish in high school,” Leland said. 

Robbins explained that one of her biggest goals for the program is to teach freshmen how to overcome inevitable academic obstacles and struggles.

“We know that every freshman coming in is going to hit some speed bump at some point, so it’s about teaching them how they recover from those bumps and realizing that everyone is going through the same thing,” Robbins said.