Chester High School will have one of its largest freshman classes in several years this school year when 104 newcomers enter the doors of CHS on Thursday.
In order to help them prepare for this new adventure in secondary education, new freshmen students had the opportunity to attend the three-day Freshmen Academy, which took place August 7-9.
The academy was led by new school counselor Adam Guebert, who was assisted by several outside guest speakers, CHS Principal Missy Meyer, CHS Assistant Principal/Athletic Director Jeremy Blechle, freshman homeroom teachers and several volunteer senior students.
"We had a very good turnout this year," Guebert said. "Out of a possible 104 freshmen, 74 attended the academy and everyone seemed to be focused, interested, and happy to be here."
Students funneled to CHS from three main sources: Chester Grade School, St. Mary's Catholic School and St. John Lutheran School. The freshmen are now blended into one common group as the CHS Class of 2021.
The academy began in the CHS Band Room where they were introduced to academy staff. Expectations were explained and there was a review of the various upcoming activities for the week.
The group was reminded that in order to receive messages via text, to text @21jackets to 81010.
Later, each advisory or homeroom teacher conducted a roll call of students in their respective classrooms. The homeroom teachers will spend the next four years as their group's homeroom teacher to provide continuity throughout the student's tenure at CHS.
Students also completed a Freshman Academy diagnostic instrument and their personal profile before attending a "Digital Safety" presentation by a staff member from the Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan's office.
On Aug. 8, Guebert led off the session by sharing information with the freshmen about graduation requirements, clubs and sports offered at CHS, transcripts, requirements for the Career Center of Southern Illinois and other information.
The freshmen later took a tour of the building and learned the lunchroom process and how to turn in lunch money. There was also a question and answer session.
The annual "Freshman Olympics" took place in Colbert Gym on Rocky Bridges' Court, which featured the Marshmallow Challenge, Trivia Challenge and Bozo Buckets.
To close the second day of the academy, Blechle answered questions regarding the previous day's discussion of the Student Handbook, rules, regulations, policies and procedures.
The Computer Lab was the focus of the third day, as CHS Computer Technician Rich Clasen taught the students how to utilize the CHS Network, Skyward, and how to sign-in to the email accounts.
Students also completed a "Learning Style Assessment" which gives teachers and staff an indication of how each student best learns new material. Students learned that people typically learn best via visual, auditory or tactile approaches. Most students use a combination of these styles.
Dr. Doyle Witt from the Chester Clinic presented important information regarding the health of students, especially how it relates to them as high school students.
The students later had a "mock school day," during which they used their schedules and attempted to find their way around the school hour-by-hour.