As we kick off a new school year, orientation is one of the most important jobs to get right. As Mr. Quirk often says, “everyone is new at the start of year,” meaning even returning people are stepping into new roles or have a new perspective. “Seniors have never been seniors, sophomores are no longer the new kids.” There are new leadership roles being assumed: team captains, proctors, student government and activity leaders, the list is extensive. As we acclimate to new roles and the perspective another year brings, we are also incorporating over one hundred and fifty new students and faculty into our Seawolf Family. They need to learn the ropes, fast!
There are many ways we welcome new students right from the start. On Day 1, we show up in full force to help new families move their students into their new residence halls. It is always fun to see the look of surprise on the new parent faces as their car is emptied in seconds; soon after, a smile spreads over their faces as they begin to relax. Dorm meetings and day group meetings for students take place after settling in, with activities following later in the day after parents say goodbye. Parents are not forgotten; we have receptions and meetings so that they can get to know each other, the faculty, and what they can expect from us.
It is the same for students. Dean of Students Tim Cleary says, “Orientation is an immensely important time for students as they come to understand their place here at school, meet the people who will support and guide them, learn our school traditions and culture, and finally understand our broader community and their role in it. We want Tabor students to have fun, to be known, and to feel proud of their community and their impact.”
To that end, we rely heavily on student proctors and navigators, students trained to help throughout orientation, through meetings by grade and by dorm. They set the tone and set new students at ease. All this is to communicate that we want students to be themselves, to not be intimidated by anything, and to engage as quickly as possible in our learning/living community.
All School meeting and Chapel orientation follow to show the norms and traditions at full community gatherings. These are places to listen respectfully, share wisely, have fun, and put our best foot forward. As we teach our alma mater (school song) to our new friends at the first Chapel, they get the idea! By the time we go to bed on Day 1, we are hopeful that all our students have met a new friend and feel ready and excited for the first day of class.
After our first morning of mini-classes, orientation continues with each class enjoying a social bonding experience together. Freshman relax at Silvershell Beach, sophomores rev things up at the Seekonk Grand Prix, juniors enjoy playing games at Starland Sports, while seniors will have some independent time to themselves in Newport. Finally, on Sunday, after a great weekend of activities and a welcome party designed to have everyone mix and mingle, we will enjoy our tradition of Seawolf Games in the afternoon: a competition between the classes solving problems and doing obstacle courses that require teamwork.
All in all, it is a busy, active, fun, and engaging first week: a great orientation for what lies ahead this year at Tabor.