Incoming Freshmen Night gives younger students a glimpse into their future


A freshman during homecoming week holding a banner.

Every year, FHC loses a class of seniors only to be replaced by an incoming batch of freshmen. Counselor Jodi Arsulowicz always finds this time of year so exciting because of how energized the next class of freshmen is when they enter the building and how that can affect their transition from middle school to high school. 

“Whenever we embark on something new, even though high school is a continuation of schooling, it’s still different from middle school,” Arsulowicz said. “It’s a different building [and] a different space. Most of the time, when there’s a change, we like to have a sense of what that change might entail.”

This time of year isn’t only exciting because of what’s yet to come but also because it’s during the season known as scheduling. Each year on Incoming Freshmen Night, the counselors prepare a presentation for the students about what courses they can take next year, what electives they can choose from, and what courses they are required to take. Then, the principal will usually talk about what it means to be a Ranger and the eighth-graders, along with their parents, will disperse and discover the school. 

The event always takes place in the evening for about 60 to 90 minutes and really gives a chance not only for students to learn more about what their first year of high school might look like, but also see what clubs they want to join or even what sports they want to take part in. 

“We’re excited to have freshmen and excited to help you figure out what high school is going to mean, ” Arsulowicz said. “The administration really wants students to feel welcome and understand that we’re excited to have [them] and [understand] that high school is a really big deal.” 

But when it comes to choosing courses, especially for the first year of high school, sometimes it can be difficult to decide because not only can it mean that you will be separated from your friends, but according to principal Steve Passinault, it’s sometimes hard to decide who to listen to when you have so many varying opinions being thrown at you. 

“A coach might tell me one thing, or a class advisor might tell me one thing, or a teacher might tell me one thing that’s from the adult perspective,” Passinault said. “[But] students are going to tell you the real story.” 

Following Freshmen Night, FHC will also have Connect Day, which happens during school, usually when seniors are not in the building. Eighth graders will come up to the high school during the day and will be assigned to some juniors who will give them a tour around the school and even get the chance to eat in the school cafeteria. 

Connect Day really allows the students to not only get a feel of the building but also get a better understanding of what high school will look like and also meet some of the students that could potentially be in their classes next year. 

A coach might tell me one thing, or a class advisor might tell me one thing, or a teacher might tell me one thing that’s from the adult perspective, [But] students are going to tell you the real story.

— Steve Passinault

“I love the fact of having a couple [of] seniors to mentor freshmen,” Passinault said. “The following year, they can see them in the hallways and [recognize] them from Connect Day.”

Along with Connect Day and Freshmen Night, what really makes the high school introduction so exhilarating is how the eighth graders choose to view it. But for assistant principal Whitley Morse, what brings her the most joy is when she gets that chance to have those one-on-one interactions with students and really get to know them. 

“It is good to just get eyes on you all for you to see us, and us to see you, and get to know each other in a safe space,” Morse said. “Then when I have to pull a kid down to my office, it’s nice to have a little bit more [of] a foundation there.” 

In previous years, it has been difficult working around COVID-19 because it can be hard to sell yourself over the screen, which is why Freshmen Night is so important. It’s the first time that it’s happening after doing it online for two years now.  

Now that the event will be held in person, it adds to that buildup of emotions that many eighth-graders feel just upon entering the building, knowing that one day, they will be attending that school and become a part of that student body. 

“The teachers are jazzed, the kids [have] nervous, fun energy,” Morse said. “Not that the high schoolers don’t bring it, [but] it’s fun to see [the eighth-graders] in the building and [wonder] if I’ll even recognize them by next fall.”