Freshman Seminar aims to inspire

Anxious freshmen fill the halls with their brand new textbooks in hand. Various thoughts fill their heads pertaining to their impending fate as high school students. High school is a novel and the first page opens in the inception of freshman year. The chaos of it all — grades, staying organized, athletics, maintaining a social life — can be very overwhelming. Freshman Seminar is a newly instated class that guides freshman students through managing that mayhem. 

This course was designed to help students through several aspects of their lives. The students learn a wide array of concepts. They are taught organizational techniques that build the foundation of their educational success, as well as skills that they can carry with them throughout high school and beyond.

“We’re not just teaching a course that is going to be valuable in the moment, or skills that are just good for studying and being successful in high school,” Freshman Seminar teacher Toni-Anne Cavallo said.  “Ideally, they are skills that are going to be imperative post-high school.”

Beginning high school can be frightening at times. The unfamiliar rollercoaster of emotions that come with embarking on the journey of high school can be a bumpy ride, and having a teacher concerned with the well being of their students can bring them some ease throughout this transition, Cavallo said.

“There is a lot of connection building. When we get into the class, we ask ‘how are you feeling right now?’” Cavallo said. She added that a significant focus within the class is to check in with the freshmen’s emotions. 

Throughout the challenging times occurring currently with distance and hybrid learning, courses may not be instructed the way they were intended to be in person. Although Freshman Seminar is a class that entails the instruction of various interpersonal skills, Cavallo said she’s worked extremely hard to fill the void of these interactions.

“I have been trying to utilize various online methods to help drive discussion and reflection as best as possible,” Cavallo said. 

Anthony Emering, the high school’s student assistance counselor, pointed out a very important aspect of Freshman seminar, which is how the students can develop new connections as a result of this course. 

“It’s great to have a class that helps, particularly our ninth graders, to feel connected with each other, to feel connected to the school, and to try to understand in a more expansive way what is available here and how the school operates and functions,” Emering said.

Some of the topics being deliberated in the course are foundations for success, self-awareness, personal identity, perseverance, active listening skills, goal setting, study skills, decision making, leadership, life skills that can be applied in this day and age, and more.

One of these lessons encompassed the significance of prioritizing. They are taught an analogy about putting certain objects in a jar. It is found that when you place the heaviest objects in first, the lighter ones will fit in as well. 

“The rocks are supposed to be the most important priorities for you, and the pebbles are kind of things that are essential, but aren’t the most important, and the sand ones are the things, maybe like texting or looking at social media, you don’t really need them,” Cavallo said.

This aids the students in their task completion process, providing them with a visual way to productively do their assignments and fulfill additional responsibilities. This is only one example of the many inspirational activities completed in Freshman Seminar. This impactful course assists students in concentrating on the rocks, along with diminishing the pebbles. 

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