Aftermath of New Chieftain Day


Hannah Feakes, Editor

This past August, Nashoba held it’s first “New Chieftain Day” to ensure that the incoming freshmen class was familiar with the building and with their classmates for the first day of school. This orientation program was stretched out over the course of two days and over 80% of the freshmen class participated along with 50 upperclassmen volunteers. During those two “boot camp” days, students were taken on a tour of the school, learned how to use a lock, and played a variety of games on the football field with their soon to be classmates.

“New Chieftain Day,” says guidance counselor Sue Allaire, “resulted from our work as a professional learning group looking at our current freshman programming and how we could improve the freshman transition experience.” She explains, “research suggests that the freshman year of high school is a pivotal time for students. It is during the freshman year when the highest dropout rates are recorded.” These two days were set up to help ease the transition for new students and to make the experience more enjoyable for the community as a whole.

Why “New Chieftain Day”, why now? Allaire elaborates, “our goal was to help foster the relationship between freshman students and the relationship of freshman with upperclassmen while making them feel more comfortable and becoming more familiar with the high school environment.” This certainly was possible with the impressive turnout by both freshmen and upperclassmen.

As of right now, the feedback seems to be positive and as explains Allaire, “we are in the process of collecting more formal feedback now through a freshman survey. Freshman have expressed to us that the New Chieftain Days helped them to feel more comfortable when they arrived on the first day of school.”

So what are the opinions from the students involved? There seemed to be mixed feelings and views on the success of New Chieftain Days as expressed by a few individuals. Freshmen Rileigh Hallberg who attended only one of the days states, “orientation day was fine but the games out on the field were very tedious and some people were not dressed properly. It helped me navigate the halls on my first day but if it were to happen again next year, I would ditch the games and allow more time to find classes.” Was the short tour enough to orientate incoming Nashoba students with the layout of the school? Rachel Estey shares her opinion, “I enjoyed the small tour, but it wasn’t really enough to make me understand what was going on.”

There was an incredible volunteer turnout for both orientation days and the upperclassmen who showed up to help were the reason this experiment was a success. Erica Marland seemed to have enjoyed the day and shares her opinion. “I thought it was a great thing to offer the freshmen. It ran smoothly and was fun. Next time I would make time for longer tours and more activities.” Jaque Manyak, a more competitive volunteer agrees, “It was very helpful for the children and I liked pushing them over and playing games to get to know each other.” According to the volunteers and students, New Chieftain Day was a hit!

That brings up the question, was this New Chieftain Day experiment successful enough in the opinions of administrators to continue next year? “We will be continuing the New Chieftain days next year, as well as the changes that we put in place for the freshmen first day of school. One change we will make next year will be to dedicate more time to a tour of the building.  We will also strive to have the freshman schedules and locker assignments ready so they can go through their individual schedules and practice on their own lockers”, clarifies Allaire.