Making the transition a little easier

First Posted: 8/5/2014

The Abington Heights High School Transition Team aims to ease the shift to high school for incoming freshmen. Students who have specific questions or fears and concerns about high school can ask upperclassmen or faculty for help, according to Ben Oon, a high school junior.

Oon and classmates Jessica Rickwood and Jack Abdalla offer students leadership opportunities in and around the high school.

“There are a lot of resources,” Oon said of the team, currently in its second year. “Being a part of the school’s transition team is about making a difference in the school.”

When Oon first stepped into the doors at the high school, he wasn’t afraid as much of the upperclassmen, but of getting lost in the school.

“I had an older sister so I wasn’t afraid as much of the upperclassmen, but there was a lot of confusion for me about getting lost and pretty much the troubles everyone experiences,” Oon said. “The biggest thing, especially for the freshman orientation, is allowing people to feel comfortable coming into the school. Any single contribution you make kind of helps students with the transition. ”

His anxieties eased as he started talking to more people, especially upperclassmen in some of his classes.

Rickwood, a senior, said a big thing for her was how well she would integrate.

“One of my concerns was the change of being mixed in with every grade. That was a worry of mine coming in, so I did things like join the tennis team and clubs as soon as I came in (to the high school),” she said. “That made the transition easier, because it’s a little bit intimidating knowing that you’re going to be mixed with people four and five years older than you.”

Sophomore Abdalla said his class schedule was one of his worries.

“I was mostly nervous about my class schedule and coming up with a system for my locker, like opening it and when I’m going to go to my locker and how I’m going to get across the building in (approximately) four minutes,” he said. “It was very nerve wracking in the beginning, but I made friends with lots of the upperclassmen through activities. I’m on the soccer team and that was really comforting, because if I was ever lost or confused they’d ask, ‘Hey, Jackie, are you okay?’”

While Oon, Rickwood and Abdalla agree everyone has fears, they also know “they are not alone and the team has worked very hard to make the school a welcoming environment.”

“We’re doing things a little differently, but hopefully we’re doing them better,” she said.

Still have the jitters? Oon offers additional advice.

“The important thing is to be yourself and don’t think you have to force yourself to be someone else. We are very accepting of differences,” he said.

Any student unable to attend the freshmen orientation program at 9 a.m. Thursday, Aug. 7 may contact the school to schedule an appointment.

“We hope to have student volunteers available on Thursday afternoons throughout the month of August,” said Abington Heights High School Principal Pamela Murray.

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