Are back-to-school activities worth it?

Back-to-school activities are supposed to help students make new friends, get to know each other, and become more comfortable with their surroundings. Despite the effort put in by upperclassmen and faculty, are these activities really achieving their intended goal?

Starting at the beginning of the year, we have freshmen orientation, sponsored by Link Crew. Link Crew leaders play a variety of games with each group of freshmen, answering questions, and taking them on a tour of the campus to help ease their anxiety. Most students are forced to attend by their parents; however, student feedback is somewhat mixed. A freshman’s experience may be impacted heavily by both their group and leader. Most freshmen are extremely uncomfortable with the games and activities, especially those who are more introverted, and look for the first exit out of the door. However, it usually rings true that freshmen will end up glad they came, even if the experience was uncomfortable. 

As a Link Crew leader, I tried my best to focus more on making the freshmen feel comfortable rather than overwhelming them or pressuring them into playing the icebreaker games. We sat around and talked about what made us nervous, what we liked to do, and what we were excited about. In doing so, the students became friends and were comfortable enough to ask the questions they were afraid to ask. One student approached me after orientation thanking me for my help and sharing he was grateful he came despite his original discomfort. The approach is what matters when helping these students.

On Friday, Aug. 5, seniors are given their own back-to-school activity. Senior sunrise is an activity sponsored by StuGo. Seniors arrive at school early in their pajamas to watch the sunrise on the football field. Many students get breakfast afterwards, or have picnics in the grass. This is the first senior activity of the school year which helps students feel excited for the year and have a truly unifying experience. Back-to-school activities benefit upperclassmen more than underclassmen because they already feel comfortable enough to take that first step in putting themselves out there. They already have their network of friends and are comfortable with their school. 

The next back-to-school activity takes place the third week of school. At the start of each year, each club sets up a booth to encourage students to join. Club Rush can help students find new clubs to join and make new friends. Taking place the week of Aug. 8, club rush helps students get involved in their school and have more activities to participate in. Many freshmen do not understand how it works and are once again afraid to put themselves out there. I did not join any clubs until my junior year. To this day, it is still scary to put myself out there. There are so many clubs at Perry, it can be overwhelming at times.

At the end of the Club Rush, all students are invited to this year’s welcome back dance. The theme is the wild west. Taking place on Aug. 13, tickets are $5 at the door. Put on by StuGo, the dance takes place from 7-10 p.m. Personally, I have never been to the back-to-school dance before. My freshman year, I was embarrassed to go without any friends, afraid that no one else would show up. If more students participated in the dance, it could be ranked next to homecoming and prom. Students would feel obligated to come. Sometimes, obligation is the best method to get students out there and interact with other classmates. 

The current way both students and staff are viewing these activities are ineffective with this mindset. It is important to change the way we view these activities in order to encourage freshmen to participate in school. Rather than focus on the activities, we should focus on making freshmen as comfortable as possible and ease them into the high school experience.