Today was Stafford High’s New Upperclassmen Orientation and then its school-wide open house. I decided to take Penny to both, as I felt it would be great if she could meet other kids entering upper grades who were in the same boat she was.
On the way over, I told Penny that her goal for the time at school was to talk to 5 new people. She thought I was crazy. I knew she would meet at least 3, as I had contacted an acquaintance in town whose daughter is in 12th grade and whose son is starting at the high school this year in 9th grade. The other 2 AFS students in town were also going to be there, one of whom she had met and one of whom she had not met. I met both of them and was impressed by both girls. One is from Norway and the other Finland, but they seemed pleased to see Penny. Penny is going to be in 12th grade and the other two will be in 11th grade, so they will not share many (or any) classes, but my friend’s daughter may share a couple of classes with Penny, so I’m glad we were able to connect and she can look for a friendly face.
The orientation was sponsored by the school’s Link Club, and had many student ambassadors who were on hand to greet new students. They played a bunch of silly games that forced them to interact with each other, doing things like “Tell the other person what you did today from the time you woke up till now in 30 seconds”. I’m sure that got lost in translation and all the fast talking went right over Penny’s head, but she did a good job of singing and playing the silly games. I lost track of what they were doing after that, as a couple of the teachers took us parents on a tour of the building. The high school is huge. Seriously, my entire school that I attended from K-12 would fit in one wing of that place. When we got back from the tour, I felt as if I had no idea where we had been or where we were going. I almost sat down and cried!
Shortly afterwards, Penny arrived back from her tour and she was given a phone number from one of the student ambassadors. Now she has someone she can call any time she needs help. They served the kids pizza and then the open house began. We looked at Penny’s schedule and decided to divide it by floor and by wing. I explained to her that all the classrooms starting with a 1 were on the first floor and all the rooms starting with a 2 were on the second floor, and then we started with the first floor rooms. We met her government teacher first, a very nice man. I had letters from AFS that I gave to each teacher, which they were happy to receive. Mr. Miller told Penny about the text books and the supply list that he wanted her to have. We progressed very similarly from classroom to classroom, and the teachers along the way helped us when we got lost. Every single one of her teachers had a connection to Thailand somehow. Her English teacher had a sister who was an exchange student to Bangkok. The creative writing teacher had a previous student from Thailand. The history teacher had worked with a bunch of Thais, and knew a bunch of curse words. He said one of them and Penny blushed and burst out laughing. It was hilarious.
Eventually we got done and went back to the cafeteria to buy Penny a school t-shirt. We got information on the athletics pass so she can decide if she wants to buy one for cheaper than it would cost her to go to the games and pay for them individually.
On the way home, we were both just exhausted. I hate crowds, and the school was CROWDED like crazy. Penny was overwhelmed by the language and fast talking and trying to find her way around and all the interaction and information. She handled it like an absolute champion, and I am extremely proud of her. All the teachers were great and told her to let them know if she doesn’t understand, they will be happy to chat with her after class or whatever she needs. One offered to give her extra notes so she doesn’t have to look up and down at the white board while he is talking…
As we were driving home, Penny said she wanted to get home to her best friend Leah :) She asked if she could stay home with us now and not go to school, and I told her that I was pretty sure she’d be bored and all she was going to learn from me was that she does not want to be a housewife. She replied, “I want to be a housewife! You go to school and I will be a housewife!” I was actually a bit envious, listening to some of her teachers today, about all the great things she’s going to learn. I promised to help her with her reading at least ;-D Since she hates reading and I love it…
I think she is going to have a great year. I hope she will put herself out there and really make friends and have a blast. She took the first step, which is the hardest. I told her that this is her destiny, and as scared as she may be, she should embrace it with two arms, since it won’t come her way again. Here’s hoping!