To kick off the 2019-2020 school year, the KO community came together at the first ever all-school orientation that took place on Thursday, Aug. 29 from 12:45p.m. to 3:00p.m.
Over the summer, Dean of Students William Gilyard and the form deans brainstormed ways to bring positive energy to campus before the start of another rigorous school year. Mr. Gilyard sent out one of his famous video messages to explain the orientation schedule and to build excitement around the event. Students and faculty alike gathered on the turf to participate in a variety of competitive activities through an app called Outback Team Building. Everyone was broken up into small groups, and each group was allowed one cellphone to download the app with upwards of 50 activities.
These activities included everything from creating a song, to cartwheel races, to solving riddles. “My favorite part was using our bodies to spell out words like ‘teamwork,’” senior Jacqui Ouellette said. The goal was to complete as many activities as possible within the time allotted.
Returning students were placed into random groups consisting of sophomores through seniors; meanwhile, the freshmen stayed together in order to help them bond as a new form. Senior prefects and senior advisors were each assigned to lead a group of freshmen in order to help them connect with upperclassmen as well. “This was a great opportunity to help allay fears and worries about the first day of school,” Director of Academic Planning Carolyn McKee said.
After orientation, new students and freshman took a guided tour of the campus lead by the senior prefects. “It was helpful to find my classes and figure out my schedule before the first day of school,” freshman Quinlan Kearney said.
In the past, orientation has been just for freshmen. Due to that fact that the concept of including the whole school was new this year, many returning students wanted to share their opinions on how it could be improved in the future. “I think orientation was the right idea,” senior prefect Bella Leuschner said. “But I didn’t find the app to be as engaging as another activity could have been for this kind of event.” For example, Bella suggested that next year, KO should have a field day because that would be more appealing to high schoolers.
Many students felt like the activities should have been more structured. “It should have been more organized; most people were bored by the end of the day,” freshman Jillian Plaut said. Junior Sydney Smith said she agreed that it could have been more engaging. “I don’t think orientation was very effective as a lot of people left or didn’t participate,” she said.
Many students also said they felt like orientation should have been shorter because fall sports teams had preseason practices in the afternoon. Despite some potential changes for next year, it is clear that orientation was a great way for all those involved to spend time together around campus.
As mentioned in Mr. Gilyard’s email, one of the main points of emphasis during orientation was that school “cannot be all work and no play.”