2016-09-15 / Front Page

Freshmen camp a great success

Brunswick School Board hears details at Wednesday meeting
BY DOUGLAS MCINTIRE
Times Record Staff


STUDENTS HELP a classmate across a low rope at one of the 11 stations set up at Camp Ketcha for incoming Brunswick High School freshmen. 
CONTRIBUTED PHOTO STUDENTS HELP a classmate across a low rope at one of the 11 stations set up at Camp Ketcha for incoming Brunswick High School freshmen. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BRUNSWICK

Brunswick High School’s novel plan to take incoming freshmen to Camp Ketcha for their first day of classes was a rousing success, according to Rick Wilson, Community Service and Outreach director for the school.

The new program was made available through a grant from the Brunswick Community Education Foundation.

“This is not money coming out of the budget — this is a grant above and beyond and a great example of the good things BCEF is doing for the Brunswick school system,” Wilson said.

At Wednesday night’s school board meeting, BHS principal Shanna Crofton said the idea was the result of eighth- and ninth-grade teachers coordinating on a way to make the transition into high school smoother.

Crofton and Wilson worked together on the grant that made the trip possible.

“I’ve been through over 20 of these freshman transition days and this was, by far, the most epic event,” Wilson said.

Traditional transitional measures were taken again this year, such as having eighth graders go to the high school last spring in anticipation of the new year to come. Also, students spent the morning of their first day acquainting themselves with their new classmates.

Wilson characterized the day as a potential “game changer” in terms of how future transitions are treated.

The students’ feedback from a day of team building and getting to know their classmates spoke volumes of the new program’s success, with only four negative reviews out of 155 freshmen attending the camp. Wilson pointed out that every member of the class of 2020 attended regardless of their abilities. One of the four complaints, Wilson said, was regarding the weather.

In all, 155 freshmen with 22 faculty and staff and 25 members of the junior class mentors loaded into five buses to make the trip.

Wilson said that more than 75 percent of the students surveyed recommended the school continue the program next year with an average score of four out of five stars.

The activities, Wilson said, stemmed around communication, teamwork and problem solving.

On Wednesday, Wilson read comments from teachers on the trip.

“When the kids and I first met that morning, neither side knew what the other was like. After spending a full day with them, coaching and participating in the activities and my falling off the high cable, we have definitely bonded and got to know each other.”

Wilson was quick to correct that there were no high cables or ropes and everything was low to the ground.

Another comment said, “The next three days saw these freshmen coming into my room every day for the 20-minute homeroom. In years past, this has always been wasted time, but this year all of us were fully engaged in discussions about school and life.”

Wilson also read some feedback from students.

“I wish we could do it again.”

“I felt it built great teamwork.”

“I wish we could have gone through all the activities.”

“Lunch in boxes makes everything better.”

School board members praised both Wilson and BCEF for the success of the inaugural program.

dmcintire@timesrecord.com

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