TBS welcomes record number of new students to campus with orientation

Sophia Liporace, Co-Editor-in-Chief

Ice breakers, tech training, unlocking lockers and meeting teachers. Orientation for freshmen and new sophomores, juniors, and seniors took place on Monday, Aug. 16 hosted by Student Services Counselor Dr. Renea Yates and the four grade-level chairs. 

The day started with all new students gathering in the gym to be addressed by Head of School Mr. David Faus, Head of the Upper School Mr. Fletcher Carr, and Dean of Students Mr. Kevin Jacobsen. This was the first time a large number of students had gathered together in the gym since March of 2019, so Mr. Carr commented on how glad he was to be returning to normalcy. 

Students then split up by grade level to meet their grade level chairs and to do a few ice breakers. Then, with their assigned buddy who was either a member of the National Honor Society, a Peer Advisor or Buc Ambassadors, new students went from class to class to meet with their new teachers. 

The admissions department started working on plans for orientation in May to create the best overall experience for new students.

Senior grade level chair Dr. John Peruggia was heavily involved in the process.

“At the end of last year’s school year, the grade level chairs met with other members of the administration to talk about orientation. Each grade level chair was tasked with organizing grade-specific activities. We also proposed that after lunch everyone have some computer training, so after lunch, all students went to Benjamin Hall to learn how to use Blackbaud,” he said. 

Despite the restrictions, new students enjoyed being welcomed into the new environment, and returning upperclassmen appreciated the opportunity to meet new members of the Benjamin community.

“I loved getting to know the new freshmen that I would be assisting with and answering their questions to help guide them through their careers at Benjamin. I think the orientation eliminated a lot of anxiety and just made everyone feel more bonded and comfortable,” said junior and Peer Advisor Tati Georgas. 

It was also comforting for new students to be able to meet their teachers before classes officially began.

“I liked getting to have a few conversations with my teachers and starting to form a relationship with before the school year started. They were all really welcoming and seemed excited to start the year,” said new senior Abby Swank, who just moved to Florida from Portland. 

The admissions department had even bigger plans for orientation this year, but those events had to be dialed back because of the surge of the delta variant, according to Dr. Yates.

“In past years, our orientation plan included a full day of activities, followed by spirited team-building activities embedded into the first week of school. Each grade level would have had a fun off-campus retreat during the first week as well. This year, due to COVID-19 restrictions, the orientation schedule had to be adjusted to a half-day event and the retreats have been postponed,” she said. 

Now that the school year is off to a great start, administrators, faculty, and students who participated in orientation look forward to keeping up with the warm and welcoming environment that the Benjamin community provides.