Volusia's freshmen-only day aimed to quell first-day jitters

By Brittany Jones, Reporter
Last Updated: Wednesday, August 02, 2017, 6:46 PM EDT

A pilot program for Volusia County high school freshmen is expanding as the district tries to make it easier for the incoming students to get over the first-day jitters.

  • Volusia's freshmen-only day set for Aug. 14
  • Students say it gives them a chance to get acclimated
  • Pilot program began at Deltona High School

On a scale of 1 to 10, incoming freshman Heather Liard said her level of nervousness heading into high school is pretty high.

"Probably like an eight because I'm excited to finally be in high school, but I'm also nervous because I feel like the first couple of weeks, it'll be a struggle to get used to it," said Liard, who will attend Deltona High School.

It's a struggle Deltona High principal Carolyn Carbonell's staff has worked to alleviate for about three years with their freshman experience initiative as they welcome new Wolves to the school.

Deltona was the first school to start the program.

"It's 100 percent attention to our freshmen," Carbonell said.

The empty hallways around Deltona High School will soon fill up with about 1,800 students, but the first day is freshmen only.

So far, six Volusia County high schools have jumped on board with the one-day event. Carbonell said the experience gives the incoming freshmen the confidence they need.

"I think they feel special that first day and then that day 2 is so powerful that they're not running around asking questions, like where's my classroom? Where do I go? We've got all of those kinks out the day before. We have got over 100 staff members helping 400 kids."

Carbonell said all of the things the student would normally do in a week take one day, including getting their ID cards, lockers, and learning about and signing up for clubs. She said they have school leaders and staff help the freshmen during the day.

"It's definitely a privilege to freshmen," Liard said. "It gives us kind of a backup to get to know teachers because we don't know them. Some kids have been here two or three years, so it helps us be more comfortable."

"You can get a feel for the school yourself before there's a lot more people," said Cyndie Goodwin, who will also be a freshman this month at Deltona High. "Even though it's only for one full day, it's still something that I can make a bond with the teachers and make a bond with other students before there’s more students."

Carbonell said the first day for freshmen is mandatory. Last year, the district said it had 5,570 ninth-grade students. School starts Aug. 14 for freshman before all other students return to class Aug. 15.