Focus on Freshmen

DHS organizes day for ninth graders to find ways to get involved and support one another in a new school.

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Focus on Freshmen

One of the optional sessions at the pullout day for freshman was learning about therapy dogs in the back gym lobby.

One of the optional sessions at the pullout day for freshman was learning about therapy dogs in the back gym lobby.

Kaila Alessi

One of the optional sessions at the pullout day for freshman was learning about therapy dogs in the back gym lobby.

Kaila Alessi

Kaila Alessi

One of the optional sessions at the pullout day for freshman was learning about therapy dogs in the back gym lobby.

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The transition from middle school to high school can be a tough one, and DHS created a new program this year to let freshman (and the entire school district) know that Dallastown cares.

On Tuesday, Sept. 3, Dallastown freshmen were pulled from their regular classes to take part in a day designed to strengthen their knowledge of Dallastown C.A.R.E.S. The acronym stands for being Compassionate, Accountable, Respectful, Ethical, and Service-Minded.

The district-wide Dallastown C.A.R.E.S. initiative evolved from and is a combination of many of former programs such as No Place for Hate and Dallastown ROCS.

According to high school principal Dr. Fletcher the goal of Dallastown C.A.R.E.S. is to make all students feel welcome, especially ninth graders.

“It was important to us to focus on freshmen because it is often difficult to feel connected and to get involved in a new school,” Fletcher said.

Students opened their day in the auditorium with keynote speaker Loretta Claiborne. Claiborne, a local resident, is one of the most decorated Special Olympics athletes in history who speaks publicly about her story and about inclusion and diversity in the classroom and in extracurricular activities.

Following the opening session, students attended various workshops of their choosing on a range of topics including Mindfulness, Human Trafficking, Therapy Dogs, Autism, Growth Mindset, and more.

The workshops took place in smaller classrooms and were designed to cover all aspects of self-care, diversity, wellness, mental health, and a variety of issues of different cultures and groups within the school.

“I took one class on drug addiction, and I actually learned a lot. In another session we learned how to focus and control our feelings and learned how to keep ourselves together when we are upset,” freshman Maddie Beecy said. “I also met some new people in some of the sessions which was nice.”

Kaila Alessi
Some freshmen opted to learn about having a Growth Mindset and how having a positive attitude can lead to success both in and out of the classroom.

During the lunch period, students rotated through three stations: a Link Crew session about stereotypes and supporting classmates, a club and activity fair, and lunch.

Freshmen ended their day back in homeroom to complete a survey about their experiences.

Although the first year of the event had a few glitches such as scheduling of sessions, and students not having their own Link Leaders for activities, overall, it seemed to be successful. Organizers hope to take student and faculty feedback into consideration for the future.

“We had a team of teachers and counselors involved in organizing this first year. We will use feedback and make some changes, but the event will continue in some form next year,” Fletcher said.