To support successful transition into high school, Fridley High School (FHS) and the Get Ready College and Career-Readiness program hosted a new ‘Welcome Week’ from August 23-27, 2021 for incoming freshmen. The week-long, supplemental summer program allowed participating ninth grade students to acclimate to the high school setting prior to the start of school. Students participated in various college and career-readiness workshops, college visits, and experiential learning and volunteer opportunities.
“Our focus was to introduce students to ninth grade transition topics, like college and career options, time management and self-advocacy,” said FHS Get Ready Coordinator Matt Kiefer. “They had class time in the mornings on those topics, and then participated in a volunteer opportunity or a college field trip in the afternoons.”
Members of the FHS Link Crew, upperclassmen who serve as peer mentors to freshmen students, were also involved in the Welcome Week, volunteering to greet and give tours to students, as well as participate in a student question and answer panel. In an open forum style discussion, freshmen were able to ask questions to the Link Crew leaders and gain valuable feedback and advice.
According to freshman Arianna Blowe, she enjoyed getting to know the Link Crew leaders, and felt that the connections and advice were incredibly helpful. “The upperclassmen gave advice from walking on the right side of the hallway, to which clubs and activities to join, or which classes to take in the future,” said Blowe. “I thought it was great to hear from students who already attend school here and know the ins and outs of the school.”
Volunteer opportunities included working with Fridley Parks and Recreation staff at the middle school’s rain garden and packing food boxes at a Feed My Starving Children event to support individuals in Haiti. Freshmen also attended their first college campus visit of the school year at Hennepin Technical College in Brooklyn Park. Students toured the campus and were introduced to the many courses offered at the school, including automotive, culinary, child development, carpentry, welding, and manufacturing programs.
“It was great to introduce our students to these interesting programs and pathways, as many students only hear about the four-year college or university route,” said Kiefer. “We want to show our students all the options and opportunities that are available to them, which includes trade schools and two-year colleges.”
To freshman Themis Vaj, the week-long experience was beneficial in allowing him to gain more confidence going into the first day of high school. “Comparing day one to day five of the week, I felt confident, ready and organized for the school year,” said Vaj.
“By the end of the week, many of our students were noticeably more comfortable and positively prepared to begin high school,” said Kiefer. “Our goal was to introduce and acclimate students into their new setting so they can be focused and successful when they officially begin their high school experience. I was very proud to see how much our students grew within a short period of time, and the leadership initiatives they took at their school.”