Schools across the state of Texas welcomed students to a new year of learning this week.  Traditionally, football, band, volleyball, and other fall athletes start practice and conditioning before the first day of school, but this year, teachers at Sweetwater High School wanted to provide an opportunity for incoming freshmen to become familiar with the campus before the first day of school on Monday.  The teachers planned a 9th Grade Student Orientation program to provide an overview of school expectations as it pertains to behavior, academics, athletics, technology, and campus spirit in a fun and exciting way.

Football Coach and Sweetwater Middle School Teacher Giles Montgomery, volunteered to assist the high school by leading the athletics' rotation. "The orientation reminds me of Frog Camp at Texas Christian University where the faculty, staff, and community created a program for incoming students that helped them make a smooth transition to the university," said Montgomery.  "My best advice for incoming freshmen at SHS is work hard every day, have fun, and create lasting memories.  SHS teachers care about students and they want them to excel in high school, but have fun at the same time."

The one-day orientation included a welcome from the campus administration, a presentation from Western Texas College to help set the tone for post-secondary education, and seven rotations for students.  The first rotation was hosted in the Mustang Bowl where new students completed an obstacle course and developed team skills in two sports competitions.  Students then participated in an art rotation, school scavenger hunt, updated their technology, learned about the high school's extensive online collection in the Library, and found out about career and business classes at school.  Additionally, upperclassmen and SHS graduates helped with the orientation and activities including the FFA demonstration "It's Not Just Cows, Plows, and Sows."

"I was excited to take a leadership role in the orientation camp," said high school faculty member Sandra Sanchez. "When the faculty and staff met to plan the camp I volunteered to prepare refreshments and lunch for the new students.  With more than 100 students in attendance and 40 teachers, our group wanted to provide a great meal and encourage building relationships between teachers and our new students.  It's not very often that teachers are allowed to plan and implement programs where everyone has a leadership role.  I guess that's one thing that makes Sweetwater High School the premier high school in the Big Country!"

SHS Junior Jaelynn Page talks to participants during the "It's Not Just Cows, Plows, and Sows" FFA demonstration

SHS Junior Jaelynn Page talks to participants during the "It's Not Just Cows, Plows, and Sows" FFA demonstration