Orientation Kicks Off the Year on a Positive Note
by Claire Russell on Monday, September 30th, 2013Milton Academy’s Upper School students participated in a week-long orientation program during the first week of September. In this week of activities, the juniors played capture-the-flag while the sophomores participated in a number of fun icebreakers. The seniors spent their orientation days learning a flash mob dance for the Senior Walk-in, recording a goofy music video, playing trivia, and most importantly getting an update about the college process from the counselors. Additionally, many Class I students invested time in working with Milton’s new students: seniors gave tours, led discussion groups, and orchestrated a field day to celebrate the arrival of Class IV.
The freshmen, the largest new addition to the Milton community, made their first appearances as students at Milton Academy by meeting the seniors, doing team-building activities, and writing a collective “I Am” poem to define their class. For the freshmen, orientation has a significant impact because they get to have the first taste of what it is like to go to Milton. Looking back, Madeline Murphy (III) said she enjoyed her freshman orientation because it gave her the opportunity to make friends. Madeline mentioned that when she came to Milton, she “didn’t know anyone,” but appreciated the time before classes to ease into the Milton community. Similarly, Ellie Lachenauer (IV) explained that orientation helped her “meet people [she] wouldn’t necessarily have met otherwise.” These peers not only included Ellie’s soon-to-be classmates but the seniors as well. She felt welcomed by the seniors as they helped make the experience “a lot of fun.” Consequently, Ellie was able to recognize many “familiar faces around campus.”
Reaction from students about orientation was generally the same across the board: while everyone loves the summer, orientation is a nice way to ground oneself back on campus before being immediately overwhelmed with work. Gianna Beniers (II) admitted that while she was reluctant to return to campus, the orientation time allowed her to ease back into the school year.
According to Deirdre McGovern (I), orientation is beneficial for the even seniors who have had many past opportunities to know each other for four years. She said orientation is “very worthwhile” because “we have all been away from each other for the summer.”
The big difference in this year’s orientation as compared to years in the past was the absence of Class Day. According to Madeline Murphy, the normal goal of class day is to allow students to “get to know [their] class” because “with a grade that’s so large, you never really get to meet everyone.” Madeline thought that these objectives were accomplished in this year’s orientation, so there was no need for a Class Day. The absence of Class Day did not seem to alter the effectiveness of orientation because the student body were still able to feel connected to their class without the hustle and bustle that comes with the usual Class Day.
Delaney Harrop (I), who came to Milton as a new junior, found that her previous class day was not very helpful. She felt the day made it “complicated” to meet other people because the grade was in “separated groups” by advisories and she is “with [her] advisor group all year, [she] would rather [have met] other people.” Delaney expressed that Milton still has room to improve the orientation experience. For example, breaking students up into random groups, as opposed to advisory groups, would give them a chance to reach out to people they don’t typically see everyday.
Each year, orientation week is met with both praise and disapproval, but at the end of the day, the administration has felt it necessary to ease students into their tough schedules and set aside time for things that might otherwise be considered discretionary. Despite mixed student opinion, orientation week is here to stay, because in the eyes of the school, the benefits provided by it far exceed the downsides.
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