The tradition of on campus freshman orientation prevailed as 110 freshman and 30 student pod leaders gathered in the quad on March 16 for the class of 2024 freshman welcome, run by Ambassadors.
Even though it occurred so late in the year, Ambassadors teacher Lauren Camarillo said it was important to have this event.
“The goal of freshman orientation is for freshmen to feel that they know a small group of people, who didn’t go to their middle school necessarily, and to feel connected to at least a few upperclassmen and other freshmen,” Camarillo said.
For the event, the freshmen partaking in stable groups were split into ten pods with three pod leaders in each. The event took place during lunch so the freshmen did not miss any class.
Once all the freshmen had found their pods for the day, the groups dispersed around campus to eat their lunch and carry out a series of ice breaker activities to learn each other’s names and find similarities between students. All students were required to wear masks on campus throughout the day.
Because of COVID-19, the plans for orientation had to adapt to be outdoor friendly, Camarillo said.
“It’s very different because a lot of our [traditional]activities are tight and teamwork driven, which requires close proximity,” Camarillo said.
For example, a game called “I love my neighbor” aims to find common interests between students. The game is played with the students standing in a socially distant circle. One person says “I love my neighbor who…” followed by something that applies to them, for example, “I love my neighbor who has siblings” or “I love my neighbor who plays a sport.” The students that the statement applies to then run into the circle and give one another an air high-five, celebrating their similarity.
After they completed their activities, their pod leaders took the freshmen on a campus tour as they would during a traditional freshman orientation.
Freshman Miran Tumasyan said coming on campus and meeting his peers was an interesting experience for him.
“[Freshman orientation] gave you a way to talk with others and…find ways that you could communicate in a different manner than before,” Tumasyan said.
Senior Gaurav Chakravarty is the vice president of Ambassadors and has been a pod leader for two years. He said he likes being a pod leader because he enjoys making connections with underclassmen and strengthening the bond across grades.
“A big part of our high school is creating bonds, like friendships,” Chakravarty said. “The first step is solid face to face interaction, and I feel like freshman orientation is a great icebreaker for that.”
Chakravarty further explained that over quarantine, many students have “lost their social skills” so it is even more important for freshmen to get out of their comfort zone and create connections.
“We want [the freshmen]to know that upperclassmen pod leaders are here to support them and to give them a warm welcome, even from a distance” Camarillo said.