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Freshman Orientation tries new approach

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Freshman in Ring Road / D. Malloy

Orientation has been altered for this year’s freshmen class, with an emphasis on team building, brotherhood, and diversity. It took place September 1-2 and included diversity workshops and a trip to the Philadelphia Rock Gym. Instead of last year’s sleepover, the orientation took place over the course of two days.

“Freshman orientation is their first glimpse of life at Malvern,” Adelphia Society moderator Mrs. Harriet Lappas said. “We want the year to start on a positive note.”

Day one of orientation focused on getting prepared for high school. The day was filled with information sessions, locker assignments, and Schoology set up. The freshmen also met their mentors from the Adelphia Society.

The Adelphia Society is a group of juniors selected by Lappas and other faculty. Their job is to mentor and extend a helping hand to freshmen in their first two years to get them acclimated to high school, according to Lappas.

Lappas said that Adelphia Society had an increased role in orientation this year. They helped the freshmen with locker setup and the information sessions. The juniors also went on a picture scavenger hunt with the freshmen, and enjoyed lunch with the class of 2019.

“I liked having a mentor because he showed me around and was also really nice,” Jake Haus ’19 said. “He also explained the schedule to me so I was not confused.”

The class of 2019 is the most diverse class in the past 30 years, Lappas said. Assistant Director of Admissions and Diversity Mr. Pat Williams ’03 led exercises that explored what makes them unique. Mrs. Lappas said that these activities will continue for the freshman class on the three service Fridays in the upcoming months.

Another change was the removal of the sleepover in the O’Neill Center Gym. Lappas said many freshmen enjoyed the sleepover last year, but complaints arose that prompted a change.

“We heard feedback from about ten kids that it was really tough not knowing anyone and having to spend the night here,” Lappas said. “That defeated the purpose of orientation which is all about inclusiveness.”

To replace the sleep over, the freshman went to Philadelphia Rock Gym. It was an all-day session on day two to encourage team building and camaraderie.

While one group was rockclimbing, professional team builders trained the second group, Lappas said. “There was no downtime at all, they were constantly doing different team building activities.”

“I had fun bonding with my new classmates,” Owen Preston ’19 said. “My favorite part was the rock climbing.”

The Black Friar Chronicle set up a survey for the freshmen to take during those two days of orientation and at the end of day two shared the results with them. To check out the survey results, go to page (blank).

Freshman orientation was not done after rock climbing. After those two days, orientation continues for the first three weeks of school. A team of 9th grade teachers, other faculty members, and Head of the Upper School Mr. Algeo came up with the idea to focus on the school values of Truth, Unity, and Love.

“We always loved the brotherhood ceremony but we thought it was a little too soon,” Algeo said. “We thought if we could give you an experience the first 3 weeks of school, break up each week with a theme for that value, you would get a broader sense of our mission and the three values.”

For those first three weeks, the freshmen stay behind after Monday chapel services to learn what the theme will be for the week, Algeo said. “In each department, they carry that theme throughout [the week],” Algeo said. “They did some activities and had students reflect on where that theme connects to the course.”

At the end of each week, the freshman class meets again and reflects on the theme and what they learned, Algeo said.

The brotherhood ceremony will take place at the end of the three weeks on September 28.

“I just want to hear what the freshmen think,” Algeo said. “Once this is over, they are going to help us decide what worked and what didn’t work, and we can go back and revamp it.”

About Dan Malloy

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