Helping Freshmen Make the Transition
Our Freshman Success Network partner school Melrose High held its first Freshman Week last month to celebrate the accomplishments and growth of scholars, teachers, and parents. More than 145 students attended during the week, which included virtual, drive-through, and pick-up activities designed to serve as a transition for ninth-grade scholars to get them acclimated to more self-governance for grades 10-12.
Borrowing from traditional college rite-of-passage ceremonies, the Melrose Freshman Success Team developed Freshman Week events to acknowledge scholars’ fulfillment of sophomore classification criteria and to encourage and inspire them as they look toward the next three years of high school. Goal-setting sessions helped students build out an academic plan for their sophomore year, and the school’s counseling team was on hand to assist with understanding credits and graduation requirements. Meet-and-greet events with the 10-12 teaching staff served to alleviate students’ anxieties about returning to school in the fall with unfamiliar teachers. Melrose alumni were featured speakers throughout the week, connecting with the students and demonstrating community support for their dreams. A “Passing the Torch” ceremony provided the departing freshmen with an opportunity to embrace the incoming freshman class and challenged them to continue paving the way for those that follow.
Although preparation was a key goal for Freshmen Week, celebration was also a major theme. Scholars were recognized each day with special highlights during the virtual college tour and the final honors and attendance rally. Additionally, 10 parents/families were awarded NOOK tablets for their active participation in meetings and academic activities throughout the year, and teachers were highlighted with “teacher superlatives” and presented with baseball team shirts and gear for summer orientation.
Freshman Week is one of the ways in which the Melrose Freshman Success Team has tried to be more focused about hitting its on-track targets. After some internal review and analysis, the team has learned to use data to leverage teacher strengths and pinpoint areas to build up with professional development opportunities. Regular meetings with Freshman Success Coach Dr. Nina Reed helped the team to analyze beyond the basic level and to use an inquiry-based approach with their plans. By the third quarter, the Melrose team had an effective system in place and the school’s freshmen-on-track rates reflected their hard work. With their new, targeted approach and new Freshman Week tradition, Melrose has created a solid foundation for launching its ninth-graders to graduation success.