Student-led tours help eighth graders prepare for the years ahead

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Natalia Nervi

Eighth graders from Park and Terrill Middle School paid a visit to Scotch Plains- Fanwood High School on Nov. 27th, Nov. 28th, Dec. 3rd and Dec. 6th to take a tour and become a little more familiar with the school they could be attending next year.
Arriving around 8:30 am, the students first listened to a short speech from Principal Dr. David Heisey. He provided some general information about the high school and what to expect on their trip. Shortly after, the students were split up into groups and assigned a tour guide, who were all students at SPFHS.
“They had a round robin,” Brooke Esposito, vice principal and organizer of the trip, said. “They began by going to either a classroom experience, a club fair- where students spoke about a variety of clubs, listened to the Moonglowers and saw a presentation from the freshmen class officers about what life is like at the high school- and then a tour of the school.”
For the classroom experience, each group was assigned a room and teacher to visit during either period one-two, three-four, or five-six. Tour guides took their eighth graders to the classrooms to give some insight into what a high school class looks like and were given the opportunity to ask the teachers and students any questions they might have.
At the club fair, the eighth graders were greeted by a performance by one of SPFHS’s jazz bands, the Moonglowers. Freshman class officers from student council then gave a presentation with helpful information about the high school such as electives, rules to follow and tips on how to get good grades and succeed freshman year, as well as all throughout high school. To close out the fair, representatives from different clubs, sports and extracurricular activities such as FLTI, colorguard and the boys and girls volleyball team, spoke a little about their respective activities and encouraged students to join as freshmen.
“[The club fair] is to get them excited about the things they can do at the high school,” Esposito said. “I think they come thinking there are a few things for them and this gives them a sense that there are [clubs and activities] that they didn’t even think of.”
Finally, the visiting students went on a student-run tour of the school broken into two twenty minute parts, ensuring they were able to visit all of the important locations. These locations included the attendance office, main office, library, both cafeterias, the nurse’s office and the gyms. On the tour, the eighth graders were encouraged to ask questions and address any concerns they had about the school.
According to Esposito, there’s a good reason why all of the tours are led by students rather than adult staff.
“Kids want to hear from the students that are here and the students that are here know what it was like to be an eighth grader, so anything that comes from them is authentic. When it comes from us, it’s not as authentic,” Esposito said.
Above all else, Esposito hoped that the experience would eliminate some nerves about coming to the high school and get the students more familiar with the environment.
“I definitely hope that they’re more comfortable with coming to the high school,” Esposito said. “I want them to feel like they’re connected to the school in some way so that when they get here they’re not as nervous and for students who are debating whether or not they want to come to the high school to decide to come here.”