Freshman Transition: Beneficial or Just a Waste of Time?

The effects of Freshman Transition on Freshmen, Peer Leaders and Teachers

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Aaron Raubvogel, Online/Social Media Editor

As Woodside’s largest freshman class rolls into the new school year, a sizable group of peer leader volunteers help freshmen transition into high school.

Freshman Transition is a program in which upperclassmen volunteers go into freshmen Life Skills classrooms once a month to acclimate freshmen to high school. Upperclassmen teach freshmen about how to be good citizens by promoting anti-bullying and acceptance.

“[The freshmen] get taught topics that won’t be taught in life skills or other classes,” Ms. Theriault said, a third year teacher at Woodside High School.

Freshman Transition is also beneficial to the peer leaders, even though they miss the same class once a month to assist freshmen.

Sarah Preston, a senior peer leader, said, “It’s stressful to miss a class, but teachers understand.”

Peer leaders learn leadership skills and are more open and accepting people after going through Freshman Transition two or more times.

“I’m awkward with kids but it helps me open up,” senior Cesar Zavala, said.

Another benefit of Freshman Transition, according to organizer Ms. Sidley, is that upperclassmen lead and teach the lessons, which form bonds and create a sense of community between freshmen and upperclassmen.

“The goal is to help the freshmen become part of our community … Hopefully they feel a sense of belonging after the program,” said Ms. Sidley, who has managed the program for the past 14 years.

The administration likes it. Peer Leaders think it is beneficial. Teachers find it useful. However, some freshmen have misgivings about the program and its usefulness.

“It seems kind of pointless to me. We’re just waiting around for the period to end,” freshman Stella Haussler says.

Despite that, many freshmen want to get something out of Freshman Transition and are making the best of it.

Daniela Thorne, another freshman, said, “It’s pretty fun except people in my group are shy … People were more open during the second lesson.”

Despite that, Freshman Transition was so successful at Woodside in its 17 year tenure that it has spread to other schools in the district like Menlo Atherton. Freshman Transition might not get the greatest reviews from freshmen, but Principal Burbank sees the long term benefit of keeping the program intact.

Principal Burbank told the Woodside World, “Peer Leaders benefit from leading [the program] and freshmen grow over the course of the year.”