New Student Breakfast: Students get acquainted with schools

By HASKEL BURNS,

In their capacity with the Petal School District’s transition teams, officials from the district have put a focus on welcoming students to new schools, with initiatives like Freshmen First at Petal High School.

One more way to accomplish that goal is with the annual New Student Breakfast, which was held recently at Petal Upper Elementary School, Petal Middle School and the high school. During the breakfast, students entering the fifth, seventh and ninth grades were greeted by teachers, student council members and other students to help transition them to their first year at the schools.

“It went really well,” district superintendent Matt Dillon said. “It was just a great way for us to welcome our new Petal Panthers to each of their respective schools.

“We had a good time of fellowship with getting to know each other and building relationships. It was a way to show them how excited we are for them to join our Panther family.”

Dillon said the students had a great time at all three schools during the breakfast.

“We had music playing, we had games for them and we had good conversation,” he said. “Students seemed very receptive and very comfortable.

“Now, hopefully when they walk down the halls, they’re going to see a familiar face with somebody that’s greeted them and built a relationship with them. Hopefully it doesn’t stop here; we want to continue to engage our new students all year long and find ways to connect with students and their families.”

School district officials also held a New Family Tailgate at the football game against Hattiesburg at Panther Stadium. All new students to the district were given free tickets to the game, and attendees to the tailgate were treated to cake and drinks.

“We just try to find ways to welcome new families to our district, and tell them how excited we are to have them be a Petal Panther,” Dillon said. “I think it extends a good hand of welcome to these new students and their families.

“We looked at better ways to welcome families to our communities (with all these initiatives). They’re getting acclimated to a new place, they’re getting acclimated to a new school district and the way that we do business. So we want them to feel very comfortable and understand our workings, and make sure that we’re on the same page and that they have everything they need to be successful.”

Freshmen First was held earlier this month at the high school, when incoming ninth-graders were given their own day to get acquainted with the campus and its customs before mixing in with the school’s 1,200 students. Throughout the day, ambassadors and student council members from the high school walked with freshmen from class to class, even showing them where to sit and the correct lines in the cafeteria.

Freshmen also had the chance to be introduced to clubs, activities and sports available to them.

“I wasn’t as nervous (during Freshmen First), because I knew that it was just going to be me and my classmates,” freshman Abby Bass said in a previous story. “I knew we’d have the opportunity to learn our schedule, see our classes and meet our teachers without all the upperclassmen there.”

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