Students leave summer behind

New school year begins
By: Anne Stokes, Placer Herald Correspondent
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School opened for the year on Tuesday. However, students and parents began the transition from summertime back into the classroom last week. At Whitney High School, freshmen attended an orientation on Friday. Senior mentors guided the new students around the campus while explaining the daunting responsibility that comes with being in high school. Incoming freshman Marcus Hower, 14, appreciated the opportunity to check out the campus before school starts. “It’s been really helpful,” he said. “I don’t think if I hadn’t had the mentor walking around with me that I would have been able to find where I was supposed to go. It takes away the fear of not knowing where you’re supposed to go or getting lost.” Sierra Zellmer, 17, offered practical advice, which she had honed from her personal experience. “Find a buddy in every class — somebody you can contact if you forget the homework or if you’re absent. If you need help studying, find someone. If you have a buddy in every class. it’s just so much easier to get help.” Jason Feuerbach, assistant principal and athletic director, echoes Zellmer’s advice. He advises new students to “get as involved as you can. If you’re an incoming freshman, get involved, whether it’s a sport, club, an after-school program through our visual and performing arts department, or yearbook, find something to get involved in and it will make high school more enjoyable.” At the other end of the education spectrum, Sierra Elementary School held their annual “Meet Your Teacher” orientation on Monday. Students and parents were invited to visit their new classrooms and teachers. Karen Huffines, principal at Sierra Elementary School, suggests that parents model a good attitude to reassure their children that school is a positive place to be. “Read to your kids, expose them to things, take them places, talk to kids,” she said. “But they need to be comfortable socially, too. And a lot of that has to do with them feeling good about school, that school is a positive experience. So absolutely impart that to your children. Make them think that school is a great and wonderful place to be, because it is!” Whether a child is starting kindergarten or high school, communication and cooperation with teachers is key to a student’s success. At the elementary school level, volunteering in the classroom not only gives the teacher a much needed helping hand, but also gives parents the opportunity to understand what’s happening in their children’s classroom. “Work in your child’s classroom, volunteer to go on field trips,” says Huffines. “Be present at school if you can. And if you’re working full-time and that’s not possible, just maybe on those special days, that field trip, or fall carnival, or the jog-a-thon. Those type of activities are maybe one-time events throughout the school year in which you can participate. Get involved.” Parents can remain involved at the high school level as well. Erich Means, a biology teacher at Whitney High School, stresses that older students still need help. “Just because they’re now in high school, doesn’t mean it’s a hands-off time period,” he said. “They probably need your guidance and support more than ever because it’s going to be more challenging for them. We’re trying to mature them into young adults in four years, and the teacher-parent combination is what these students need.”