On August 24, Red Bank Regional High School (RBR) welcomed its newest members, incoming freshmen -- the Class of 2020. The students were greeted by upper classman student-to-student peer leaders who directed them around their new high school, assisting them in opening their lockers and answering their questions. They also created a friendly atmosphere with ice-breaker activities.
Student Council President Michael Eulner reminded the freshmen, “Don’t be afraid to come up to all the upper classman, we are here to guide your way.”
Each member of the Class of 2020 was gifted with their first official RBR t-shirt, courtesy of the RBR BUC Backer Foundation. They also received their I.D. as well as an email account for their student portal. The first day of school is Tuesday, September 6.
Incoming freshman Erin O’Kane from Little Silver felt the preview day for freshmen was most helpful stating, “I learned where my classes were from upper classmen and got the scoop on my classes and my teachers. It was helpful to get a feel for the school.”
The students are the 10th class of the RBR Freshman Academy, a school within the school created to demystify the large-school building environment. Within this concept, students are heterogeneously assigned to three smaller houses, where they share the same teachers, guidance counselor and core classes for most of the day. Most importantly, their teachers and counselor have a common planning period to coordinate cross-curricular learning themes and keep abreast of student progress. This prevents students from falling through the cracks by expediently identifying and addressing concerns. Educational Research finds that a positive freshman year bodes well for future high school success.
Freshman Academy Supervisor Suzanne Keller described what the students should expect in this their first year at a comprehensive high school. She also shared advice gathered from former freshmen, including, “get enough sleep” and not to hesitate to ask for help. She explained how RBR offers many forms of support including after school tutoring with teachers, lunchtime tutoring by peers and even, community tutoring in Red Bank. The latter, operated by The SOURCE, RBR’s School Based Youth Services Program, also supervised by Ms. Keller, will have two community locations this year and even provides dinner for the students.
Ms. Keller also echoed the advice of other administrators for the new students to get involved in after-school activities and sports stating, “Getting involved is the way you will have the most fun. The more you are doing here, the more you will enjoy school.”
Representatives from a myriad of activities available at the school manned displays and exhibits like the championship CyberPatriot team, history, math and newspaper clubs. The Visual and Performing Arts Academy invited students to perform karaoke at the chorus table, guitar at the band display and even a giant harp which is available for study at the high school.
RBR’s Principal Risa Clay told the students and their parents (who later joined their children for an information session followed by a welcoming barbecue) that “This was the biggest freshmen class she ever had at RBR with 345 enrolled.”
She added, “If you ever have any questions or concerns, please don’t be afraid to come to me.” She then shared her prolific twitter account “@principalclay” where the most up-to-date information on RBR is always posted.
In his first year at the school district, RBR Superintendent Lou Moore addressed the freshmen. He empathized with the fear of beginning someplace new, but told them to, “fear not and embrace this year.” He reminded the students “you are in charge now, adding, “Think about that in terms of work and how you want to conduct yourselves as a citizen of the school,”
He echoed Principal Clay and Supervisor Keller’s comments that the staff and administration are there to support them as well as encouraging them to “step out of their comfort zone, and do something, they have never done before.” He then received great applause when he stated, “I think this is the best high school in New Jersey. No other high school has what you have. The depth of programs, the quality of our faculty in dedication and excellence and the diversity is extraordinary.”