Freshman Ryder Proudian was excited about Friday’s orientation program at New Rochelle High School, but wasn’t sure what to expect. Once he experienced the program, however, his excitement was justified.
“It was great to finally meet my teachers and find my classrooms,” he said. “The orientation was awesome, and I was really surprised to see how big the school is from the inside.”
Proudian was one of hundreds who attended. They included freshmen, students new to New Rochelle High School, and sophomores who had never entered the high school building last school year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The building’s scheduled opening was delayed in early September while extensive repairs were made after flooding caused by Hurricane Ida. Students have been learning virtually since the school year started, but, starting Monday, will attend class in person at the historic Clove Road building.
Principal Dr. Dagoberto Artiles had something in common with orientation attendees: It was his first orientation at New Rochelle High School as well. “Having the students in the building today re-energized the entire staff, teachers, and administrators,” he said. “The students’ energy is contagious. We all can’t wait for when all the students return on Monday for an amazing year,” he said.
A major goal of the orientation was to help students feel comfortable with in-person interaction. Attendees were provided a variety of information, resources, and activities designed to aid them socially and emotionally. These included yoga, tips on coping strategies from the school psychologist, and time to navigate the school to see where their classrooms would be. For incoming sophomore Leah Jones, the program was especially valuable. “It was so great seeing my friends in person in school and finally have a normal school interaction,” she said.
The Ignite Mentors, a group of juniors and seniors, helped incoming students get to know their new educational home. “My freshman class was so excited for the beginning of high school; this incoming class hasn’t had a chance to experience that same type of excitement,” said mentor Layla Bernard-Jones, a senior. “Being able to help them experience the excitement has helped me remember that excitement.”
Francis Curley, New Rochelle High School’s Director of Guidance, said his team was thrilled to see students in person after months of online access only.
“Students are happy to be here today and the building has come back to life with the spark of their energy,” Curley said.