BRISTOL, Connecticut, U.S.A. — What do you get when you jam hundreds of bored, hungry, and apprehensive teens into the auditorium of Bristol Eastern High School?
The freshman orientation for the class of 2005, of course!
I should have seen it coming. The permission slip asked us to please return the cut-off portion by August 13th. We got the letter on the 15th.
Still, naïve little me, I walked up the sidewalk that beautiful morning with high hopes. Upon entering the building I was swallowed in a sprawling mob that filled the entire foyer.
The glass is half full, they tell me….
Anyway, I managed to fight my way to one of the tables, miraculously without the aid of a machete. There I was asked my name and team, and handed a little piece of paper.
“Hello, my name is Katie”. Great, a name tag. Nothing warms my heart more than people pretending to be my oldest pal as they read my name off my shirt.
I stood around for a while, pretending I knew someone. Sure, everyone knows me. I’m “Katie.”
Finally, we got shooed into the auditorium. But not without first grabbing a “boarding pass” — wouldn’t want to forget that. They might not let me into school next Thursday without it.
Of course, after everyone was seated and we were given a brief word of introduction, we all knew who the first speakers would be: the head honchos, the ones in charge.
You guessed it, folks: The BEHS cheerleaders!
They danced around a bit, hoisted each other into the air, and chanted their cheers. Rah, rah, rah! Rah rah rah! Go BEHS, etc. Actually, I’d guess it was the least repetitive part of the orientation.
Then of course came the basic speakers: principal, assistant principals, head of such-and-such, and superintendent so-and-so.
The same basic speeches, too. We’ve all heard them before, many times.
I guess that’s why they put their heads together over summer and added a creative spin. Now we’re not at an orientation. We’re on a plane, listening to pre-flight instructions!
So where’s my barf bag?
After what must have been at least 10 hours in the auditorium, with our seats in the upright position, I might add, we finally got to roam the rest of the school.
My team, 9-2, went off and had another discussion about the approaching school year.
Then we separated into homerooms and got our new schedules. Or at least, we were supposed to. I couldn’t find mine.
I looked through all the ones left on the table. Nope, it went straight from H to K. I told my new homeroom teacher, and he asked if anyone else had it. Then he told me to go to the Blue House and look for it.
So I went out into the hallway in the direction he’d pointed and looked around. Was this the Blue House? Probably not. I was confused, so I went back into the room.
Someone came up to me and handed me my schedule. I asked where it had been and they pointed to the other end of the table. Stupid me, fresh from Chippens — there, J comes before K.
Then we went off on a “tour” of the building, lead by two older students.
As we wove our way through the halls, I found myself wishing I’d brought some breadcrumbs or maybe a spool of string.
I also noticed there were fewer of us than there had been when we started out.
No matter. Eventually we were all lured outside by the smell of food.
I would have had some, but I have this thing about burgers: if I can’t tell the difference between the meat and the charcoal brickette, I usually pass. I made do with some watermelon.
We ate inside, entertained by the antics of, um, these two guys with sequined vests.
Then it was time to leave. Actually, it was about a half-hour before time to leave, but apparently the thing was over so we all had to go wait by the door for our parents to pick us up.
As I headed back to the front door, questions still raced through my mind: will I get lost? Are the school lunches any good? Will I have lots of homework? Will I be able to find my classrooms?
But one question loomed in my mind above all others: what the heck were those cheerleaders doing on the airplane?
Katie Jordan is a Reporter for Youth Journalism International.